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Our Cherished History

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In the serene, rustic landscape of northern Michigan, the McKinley's have etched their name into the annals of the agricultural community. The story unfurls with the intrepid spirit of Daniel, their great-grandfather, who embarked on a voyage from the rolling hills of Scotland to the enchanting shores of Traverse City's Peninsula. Here, he sowed the first seeds of their legacy along the timeless Mckinley Rd, cultivating an orchard that whispered tales of old.

Amidst this rustic charm, a modest, one-room haven known as the McKinley School was where the local youth gathered knowledge and dreams, guided by the tender hands of the McKinley family.

As the years danced on, destiny beckoned, and Grandfather William, after the somber loss of his father Daniel, journeyed to Frankfort, Michigan. It was there, against the backdrop of scenic Frankfort, that William McKinley birthed Fruit Haven Orchards, a centennial farm that affectionately became "the home farm." Across its sprawling 580 acres, apples, cherries, plums, peaches, and pears burst into life, painting a vibrant tapestry of nature's bounty.

The legacy flowed through the generations, a baton handed down to the third generation: Mick, Billie, and Lon McKinley. Lon, in his pursuit of horticultural dreams, nurtured Summit Orchards, a resplendent 230-acre expanse yielding luscious fruits, including pears that found their way into the Gerber baby food Co. and cherries that graced smelter orchard co.

Then, in 1997, amidst the serene charm of Frankfort, Troy and Mara carved their dreams into the earth, building their home on a pristine 5-acre cherry orchard that commanded a breathtaking view of Frankfort, Elberta, and Bestie Bay. Frankfort, a haven nestled beside the gentle embrace of Lake Michigan and the majestic Sleeping Bear Dunes, was their canvas.

But, as seasons come and go, so too did the cherry trees, their faithful companions from childhood, eventually bow to the ravages of time. It was a poignant moment, witnessing history yield to vacant land.

Yet, from the ashes of the past, a new chapter emerged, a chapter titled "Our Plan and Future." On these once-vibrant 5 acres, Cherry Hill Lavender Farm blossomed. Troy, Mara, Casey, and Eli, united in their desire to infuse Frankfort with the serene, calming essence of lavender, set forth on a journey that would bring this aromatic treasure to the heart of the community.

Their vision saw the distillation of French and English (culinary) essential oils in a Copper still, lovingly imported from Portugal. Each essential oil held within its depths a unique symphony of flavors, from the sweet to the spicy, and the savory, destined to grace dishes ranging from succulent meats to delectable pastries and tantalizing cocktails. And, as a delightful bonus, the hydrosol, or "flower water," not only offered its multifaceted utility but also held the power to deter ticks and fleas.

With a breathtaking assembly of 23 cultivars and 2300 vibrant lavender plants, Cherry Hill Lavender Farm crafted elegant wedding bouquets and stunning arrangements, each bloom exhaling a fragrant promise of love and serenity. A cascade of lavender buds lent their sweet aroma to environmentally-conscious flower tosses.

Their commitment to the environment shone through as they embraced pesticide-free practices, a silent nod to the fragile balance between humanity and nature. July marked the inception of the lavender harvest, inviting enthusiasts to embark on a "u-pick" adventure spanning two enchanting weeks.

The labor of love for the lavender bore fruit in their hearts, a labor they were eager to share. Educational opportunities, guided tours, and the promise of a new journey awaited all who wished to partake. Their digital presence, through Facebook posts, showcased an ever-expanding repertoire of products, enlightening blogs, and engaging activities as they continued to flourish.

In a delightful twist, they found a kindred spirit in a local Maple Syrup Crafter, Brix Stone Farms. Together, they conjured the most exquisite of flavors – savory Lavender-infused maple syrup – a culinary treasure fit for crepes, pancakes, succulent meats, delectable desserts, and enticing cocktails.

As you step onto the hallowed grounds of Cherry Hill Lavender Farm, take a deep, calming breath and feel the burdens of the world slip away. It is their heartfelt wish to share the soothing embrace of lavender with the community and the wandering souls who grace their farm. Arranged tours await, promising insight into the art of lavender cultivation, and the perfect setting for photographers and artists to capture the breathtaking beauty that surrounds.

Mid-July heralds the lavender harvest, a time of bustling activity as the blooms are meticulously dried to become culinary buds for delectable recipes. Pure French oils are carefully distilled, bundles of lavender are prepared for weddings and personal use, and the farm continues to evolve and flourish.

Watch with bated breath as the McKinley family's journey unfolds. And, as you embark on this fragrant adventure with them, take a moment to delve into the fascinating history of McKinley Cherry farming, a legacy that paved the way for the creation of Cherry Hill Lavender Farm.

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