Know Your Farmer: Hallstedt Homestead
For all sweet cherry lovers out there, Hallstedt Homestead is the place for you. The Northport orchard, run by Sarah and Phil Hallstedt, is a new haven for sweet cherries in the heart of the cherry capital. They grow eight varieties of sweet cherries, including six varieties available for U-Pick.
Sarah and Phil never planned to become farmers. They were previously living in the suburbs of Indianapolis, totally removed from the world of fruit farming. However, as they started looking for a slice of Northern Michigan to retire in, they began to consider the idea of a working retirement. Phil’s family has roots in Northport, and Phil had fond memories of picking sweet cherries as a child. So, while they had initially imagined living lakeside, Sarah and Phil fell in love with the idea of running their own orchard. The Hallstedts purchased their 53-acre property with 21-acres of orchard in 2006.
When you drive up to Hallstedt Homestead today, you are immediately taken by the beauty of the orchard. The orchard sits on rolling hills, with certain points allowing amazing views of the healthy cherry orchard and surrounding farmland. However, it was a different picture when Sarah and Phil bought the land in 2006. The old cherry trees were neglected and in rough shape. The Hallstedts decided it would be best for them to rip out the old trees and start fresh. Sarah and Phil, with the help of their three kids and farm dog, went to work preparing the soil for young trees. The first shipment of trees arrived in 2010, and the Hallstedts continued planting young trees until 2012.
Today, their orchard has about 9,000 trees of 8 different varieties. The Hallstedts enlisted the help of local growers, who became mentors, to help pick cherry varieties that would best suit the climate conditions of their property. The Hallstedts landed on eight varieties: Regina, Attika, Sweetheart, Ebony, White Gold, Cavalier, Ulster, and Summit. The diversity of trees on Hallstedt Homestead means that the harvest times are staggered nicely. Since they hand-pick all of their cherries, this is particularly helpful during the busy picking season. It also means they have an extended U-Pick season to allow local cherry enthusiasts more time to pick their own sweets!
While the Hallstedt’s main gig is growing sweet cherries, Sarah has expanded their repertoire to include cut flowers and veggies at their farm stand and at the Northport Farmers Market throughout the growing season. The Hallstedts stay busy, always looking for the best ways to utilize their land. An exciting new project they are working on is a pollinator habitat. Hallstedt Homestead has a few acres of low-lying land that isn’t ideal for growing cherries, so Sarah and Phil decided to put it to another use. They received a grant to transform the area by planting it with native plants to attract pollinators that will benefit their orchard and surrounding farmland.
U-Pick in the Orchard
Sarah and Phil are excited to welcome local visitors to their farm this summer for their first season of U-Pick! Cherries are late this year, but they are finally ready to be picked! Conveniently located at the front of their property, two acres of dwarf-style cherries are ready for u-pickers of all ages. Sarah and Phil also plan to host guided U-pick tours of their orchard this season as well. Specific picking schedules and timing will be available on their Facebook page @hhcherries. Also make sure you stop by their farm stand (8227 N. Matheson Rd.) for sweet cherries for the rest of July and the first week of August, as well as fresh cut flowers and vegetables! Learn more about the Hallstedts on their website and on Instagram and Facebook @hhcherries.
Julia Linder is the Communications & Events intern for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at [email protected]
Find more great stories here.