Island View Orchards in Michigan

Six generations of Lyon’s have picked cherries at Island View Orchards in Michigan. It began over a century ago, in 1876, when Alfred and Mary Lyon settled on 40 acres of wooded land overlooking Grand Traverse Bay.

Alfred, a recent immigrant from Sweden, purchased the land from the local lumber baron after working two years in the sawmill. The land was cleared and apple trees were planted, as well as potatoes.

The farm passed onto their son and daughter-in-law, John and Ruth. John planted cherries in the 1920’s to meet the growing demand for Maraschino cherries. In Michigan the trees that bear the fruit for Maraschino cherries are a more reliable producer than other varieties.

With the success of the fruit operations, the farm was expanded to 100 acres, and both sweet and tart cherries were planted.

All eight of John and Ruth’s children worked the orchard with horses. With the success of the fruit operations, the farm was expanded to 100 acres, and both sweet and tart cherries were planted. Sons Whitney and David took over the farm, and with the help of a dozen migrant families, greatly expanded fruit production. Migrants were replaced with mechanical harvesting in the 1970’s. The family connection continued as all of Whitney and Mary’s ten children worked on the farm. Today their sons, John and Frank, operate the farm with help from their children, siblings, nieces and nephews.