Farm Profile: Lehman’s Orchard (Michigan)

Share this post

lehmans orchard farmhouseSteve Lecklider wasn't always a farmer, he was a professional clarinet musician playing classical music in South Bend, Indiana. Now he runs Lehman's Orchard with his parents, both retired teachers. “We've all left the farm and then come back,” said Steve, the third generation in his family to run the orchard. Their farm in Niles, Michigan (Berrien County) grows generous apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, wine grapes, and tomatoes. His grandfather Ralph Lehman started the farm in 1929. Such a diverse farm in a four-season area requires a lot of juggling. “It's just like in music - you gotta see it all the way through,” said Steve. “You can't just show up at the practice and not the performance.”
Niles is located in the lower palm of hand-shaped Michigan along the St. Joseph River. In that region September was just as warm as August which meant the peaches stayed late and the apples were right on time. FruitGuys central region customers will see some of Lehmans’ Honey Crisp, Gala, and Macoun apples in the coming weeks.

The Lehmans are known for their tart cherries and long-established You-Pick trade. They employ sustainable and organic orchard practices such as high-density tree planting, intercropping, and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Planting dwarf trees close together conserves water and lets light reach other crops that are planted between the rows, like tomatoes growing among the peaches or strawberries tucked in with the grapes. Steve also places a reflective fabric under the trees during ripening which adds warmth and light and discourages certain pests. This one organic IPM method means pesticides don't need to be used.

In their dried fruit business, they pit their famous cherries on site and mix them with other regional fruits to create dried fruit mixes. “Instead of using raisins we use cranberries, that's a mid-west thing,” said Steve. Their “Michigan Mix” of cranberries, unsulphered apples, pecans, and cherries is a big seller, as well as the “Apple-Crunch” and “Healthy Mix.”

We look forward to seasons of blossoms and berries, and baskets of peaches and pears. While farmer Steve may no longer have time to play, we can be content with some Brahms sonatas coming from the truck's radio.

Heidi Lewis writes about farms, bees, and fruit from her home in Sonoma County, CA. She's been with The FruitGuys since they were FruitKids.



Subscribe to the WEEKLY BITE

* indicates required


Recent The FruitLife articles:

Beehives, swales, and vermicomposting, oh my!
April 29, 2019
Spring fruit varieties and how to enjoy them
April 16, 2019
A tribute to the “Lemon Lady” of Redwood City
March 11, 2019
The FruitGuys New Year’s poem
January 8, 2019
Sowing the seeds of entrepreneurship
October 31, 2018
Give the delicious gift of farm-fresh fruit and healthy snacks
October 4, 2018
Summer to fall transition brings new fruit into the rotation
October 2, 2018
Bring some fruitful fun to your workplace on Tuesday, October 2
September 27, 2018
Farmer suicide is a public health threat and could hurt our food supply
August 14, 2018
How to keep your favorite fruit fresh through the summer heat
July 19, 2018

More recent articles:

Best onboarding practices
May 21, 2019
Quick, easy steps to spruce up your office space
May 14, 2019
Grilled portobello recipe
May 9, 2019
How to prepare physically and mentally for race day
May 9, 2019
Three simple ways to enjoy watermelon radishes
May 2, 2019
Easy spring salad recipe
April 25, 2019
Reduce plastic use with these earth-friendly alternatives
April 22, 2019
History of the tomato
April 18, 2019
How to make sure you’re getting enough iron in your diet
April 11, 2019
How fostering psychological safety increases performance
April 8, 2019

About Us

Our online magazine offers a taste of workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. It features recipes for easy, delicious work meals and tips on quick office workouts. It's also an opportunity to learn about our GoodWorks program, which helps those in need in our communities and supports small, sustainable farms.