Yulia and Jerry
Our first red currants
some of Yulia's roses at the farm
"Yulia my Julia
takes all her tool-e-as
and off to the garden she goes
will she plant roses or maybe petunias
only my Yulia knows"
In the beginning....
Jerry grew up on a small farm about 40 miles south of here. When his family moved there in 1964 they found several gooseberry bushes growing in the yard. (well his parents did, he was only three weeks old) The bushes were extemely prolific every year, despite the fact that no care, fertilizing or pruning were provided to them. In fact they were trampled by cattle and run over by lawnmowers on more than one occassion. 50 years later, those bushes are still there producing several pounds of beautiful berries every year.
Jerry always thought that if those bushes could be productive despite all efforts to kill them, then Michigan must be a very good place to grow gooseberries and currants. He often encouraged his parents to start a berry farm, but they never did. They stuck with the soy beans, wheat and corn.
Though he never gave up the dream of starting a berry farm, he grew up, moved away and became a lawyer instead.
Meanwhile...on the other side of the world
Yulia was born in the very north of Russia. Growing up she watched her parents leave the city and walk deep into the forests and marshes on their annual trek to pick the black currants that grow wild there. It was common for them to walk 6 miles in pursuit of the lucious little gems and then carry home a couple 5 gallon buckets for their efforts.
It may seem odd for someone growing up on the arctic circle to have a knack for growing things, but Yulia has a green thumb. Every summer she worked in her family's garden at their cottage in the country. Unfortunately growing acres and acres of potatoes did not really satisfy her yen for gardening. She dreamed that one day she would live in the country and grow roses, vegetables, and maybe even some berries...
But she grew up, became an English translator and went to work at the naval shipyard instead.
Little did she know at the time that one day she would marry some guy from America who also dreamed of growing berries...
....call it kismet.
They had to start somewhere...
In 2011 they purchased 20 acres of vacant farmland with the goal of starting their gooseberry and currant farm. As luck would have it, in 2012 they found another 40 acre farm 3 miles west of the 20, this time with a house and barn.
They moved from Midland to the farm in 2012 and in 2013 they recieved their permit to grow from the Michigan Department of Agriculture. They planted 1 acre in 2013 and in the spring of 2014 they planted another 2 acres.
Three down fifty-seven to go.......