End of an Era: Michigan Family Forced to Shut Down 150-Year-Old Cherry Orchard

By: Georgia | Last updated: Nov 05, 2023

In the heart of Williamsburg, Michigan, John Pulcipher faced the modern challenges of a bustling highway dividing his cherry orchard in half. Pulcipher’s family began their farming legacy in the 1800s, when the highway was a mere dirt road.

Fast forward to today, this road has become a symbol of change as it leads to the rapidly growing Traverse City.

The Struggle of Modern Farming

As the city’s popularity surged, so did the traffic, causing disruptions for farmers like Pulcipher. Surrounding him, once-vibrant cherry trees now lay barren and lifeless.


Source: Manuel Cortina/Unsplash

For Pulcipher, once a symbol of family legacy and hard work, these trees represent a difficult decision to end an era.


The "Cherry Capital of the World" Faces Global Challenges

Traverse City, fondly referred to as the “Cherry Capital of the World,” has a long-standing history of cherry cultivation, starting in 1839.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, imported cherries, particularly from Turkey, have begun overshadowing the local produce, creating an economic strain on long-time farmers like Pulcipher.

Orchards Give Way to Golf Courses and Mansions

The once undulating orchards are rapidly transforming. Where cherry trees once stood, luxury homes and private golf courses are now emerging.


Source: Juan Gomez/Unsplash

As Pulcipher points out, the very charm and beauty that attracted people to the region are being overshadowed by the urban sprawl.

The Uncertain Future of Historic Lands

Despite the challenges, Pulcipher remains reflective and hopeful. He acknowledges the physical toll of farming but is saddened by the thought of ending a generational legacy.


Source: Yume Photography/Unsplash

As he navigates this transition, he remains uncertain about what the future holds for the land that’s been in his family for over a century. He admits, “I guess I’m just kind of old school; I’d like to try to keep the land as long as I could,” he said. “But you never know what opportunity might be presented.”