HEALING TREE FARM is a permaculture demonstration farm located at the Leelanau Conservancy owned DeYoung property in beautiful Leelanau County.
Using the Principles of Permaculture, our farm is connecting people with the concepts of growing sustainably within the existing ecosystem. In addition, our goal is to help young families learn to grow their own food, prepare it and store it over time. This is an ancient wisdom that has been diluted in the sea of quick-fix microwaveable meals and easy-open cans. This form of farming extends outward into the community and is not limited by acreage or equipment. Instead, we thrive on integrating into existing systems and progressing within these systems. Permaculture is a form of ecological farming or forest gardening in which the farmer mimics and integrates into the mature forest ecology, farming the way nature intended.
In 2004, Samantha began researching the correlation between the increased incidence in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among agricultural families in her region. Specifically, she examined the link between NHL and the use of organochlorines and organophosphates used on cherry orchards. In 2006, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease.
Cancer-free by 2007, Samantha decided to put her energy into seeking alternative growing methods for orchards and established Healing Tree Farm as a backyard experiement that spring. Today, she writes, teaches, and demonstrates permaculture design techniques.
A landscape designer by trade, Christopher became interested in permaculture after receiving his Masters from the Conway School of Landscape Design in western Massachusetts in 2006. Today he shares his time between landscape work for area resorts and residents (minus the use of chemical fertilizers or biocides) and work on the farm.
Samantha & Christopher Graves live in Traverse City, MI with their four children, trusty beagle, two cats, sheep, ducks, and chickens.
More than Cherries
“I could see her face long after I closed my eyes. Lauren sat cross-legged on a hammock in front of her family farm smiling for the camera. The warmth of that smile could be felt beyond the confines of the slightly faded newsprint as if she sat beside me in my own quiet contemplation of her.
Lauren was the daughter of a prominent cherry farmer in the Cherry Capital of the World, Traverse City, MI and what the photograph had captured was the announcement of her bid for Cherry Queen. The vibrant young woman appeared at once the ideal candidate for the prestigious title; she was smart, witty, beautiful, familiar with the industry. And she stood out for another reason, Lauren was undergoing chemo- and immunotherapy to treat an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).
The Grand Traverse Region has long been revered for its cherries. Lauren’s family farm is not far from the very first cherry farm in our area, planted one-hundred fifty years earlier on Old Mission peninsula and more tart cherries are grown in Traverse City than anywhere else in the world. I had lived, worked and played in the orchards growing up in cherry country. You can hardly drive down a road here without passing an orchard.
Something about Lauren’s story stayed with me for several months and when I learned of her passing in January of 2005, I felt compelled to research the cancer that had taken her life. Lauren was 21.
Within minutes I discovered NHL is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States. Sometimes referred to as the “pesticide cancer,” NHL is according to Dr. Marion Moses of the Pesticide Education Center, “the cancer most frequently associated with pesticide exposure and one of the most studied cancers in agriculture.”
For nine months I researched the pesticide-cancer connection and on September 23rd, 2005, presented my findings at the Michigan LAND conference in Battle Creek, MI. My presentation, More than Cherries, took first place and was later published.
In the process of working on More than Cherries, I was humbled not only by Lauren’s courageous battle with cancer, but also by how many people she had inspired, how many knew her personally and the simple tragedy of it all. No one can say for sure why Lauren fell ill, but it seemed the very thing that sustained our community might also be causing us harm.
On September 26th, 2006, one year following my presentation on the correlation between NHL and agricultural practices in Northern Michigan, I was diagnosed with the very same form of lymphoma Lauren had bravely battled. My world stood still. It seemed an impossible coincidence that of the forty forms of NHL, Lauren and I were sisters of the same white cell mutation.
Within a week, a friend and mutual friend of Lauren’s family asked if I would like to speak with Lauren’s mother. We met over the phone and this began a whirlwind of support from Lauren’s family I could not have otherwise imagined. With charisma and courage to rival her daughter’s, Lauren’s mom sat with me during my first treatments (the infusions sometimes lasting 7 hours) and her father and sister sat with me for another and her aunt visited me at the last. In fact, it seemed Lauren was all around.
At first it frightened me. I didn’t believe in the supernatural. I wasn’t religious or very spiritual and yet I felt like Lauren was walking with me. At times, her smile, radiating out over time and space from that first photo, would catch me as I cradled my bald head in hands weak and shaky from the steroids. There was strength in that smile that carried me.
When I completed my treatments in February of 2007, I was inspired to take all I had learned in terms of research, courage and the support and friendship from Lauren’s family, to grow fruit without chemicals using the principles of permacutlure in my own backyard. Healing Tree Farm was born out of this sense of urgency and it is, as the paper suggested, about more than growing cherries; it’s about family, community and a way of life that sustains us on every level.
Cancer shook me to the core, but I am grateful for the experience. It truly made me a better person. And now it is time for me to do some healing, both physically and emotionally, getting back to the place I loved the most as a child; rediscovering and reclaiming the magic of the orchard.”
In healing we are teaching and in teaching, there is healing.
Special thanks to our ORCHARD SUPPORTERS, who raised $6000 toward the installation of the apple orchard at the DeYoung property.
Elizabeth Clodfelter, Valarie, and Maria Payan have taken the funds raised for the orchard at DeYoung to $6000!
Post-match Support – Words cannot express our gratitude.
- Though we have met our matching goal, we are permitted to go over. Jennifer Majszak and other continue to contribute and are helping not only with the cost of trees, but are also helping purchase support plants for the guilds that will surround the trees. Jenny lives across the road from the farm, so she will have a wonderful view of our progress We are so grateful for Jenny’s support and all of our orchard supporters.
- Thank you Deborah Murphy! Your help funding a portion of the orchard means future generations of farmers will have educational opportunities that extend beyond convention. Thank you kindly and please visit us soon!
- Lisa Holappa became our first post-match contributor! Every bit counts, whether supporters are out helping with planting, or contributing financially. This isn’t our project, it’s a community project inspired by nature and located on a beautiful Leelanau Conservancy property that will be protected for generations to come.
- Aubrey Ann Parker left a wonderful comment on our KS page following her contribution about the importance of changing food systems locally. We agree and appreciate her support and encouragement! Thank you, Aubrey!
- Stephen Bublitz is helping us inch closer to surrounding each of the 200 apple trees planted with polycultures of beneficial plants that will host beneficial insects, microbes, and help build an important mycelium network beneath the surface of the soil.
- Resilient Family Farms, thank you farmers for helping support this vision for positive change. (And for growing wonderful food).
- Robert DeJonge became our latest supporter! Thank you Robert, you’ve joined a wonderful crew of orchard supporters and visionaries!
- Thank you Andrea Claire Maio, our latest contributor to the orchard at DeYoung!
- Thank you Mary Purdey, for a generous contribution toward the completion of the first fully integrated permaculture orchard at DeYoung!
- Since MittenStretcher’s article about the farm, we’ve received a number of donations for the orchard project at DeYoung. Maria Payan started us off this morning with a show of support toward installing 200 unique and antique apple varieties at the farm. Thank you to Maria and all of our Orchard Supporters!
Thanks to a matching contribution from Cherry Republic as well as individual contributions from Barbara Mendenhall, Eric J., and Jennifer Boice, we raised $5,799 of our $5,200 goal! Funds in excess will go toward beneficial guild plantings around the fruit trees. Thank you to all who came forward with support. We are hugely appreciative. Join us at the farm this summer!
Be well, Samantha & Christopher Graves
Thank you to all of our Orchard Sponsors!
- Richard K. is leading our fifth week of contributions as we approach our goal! Thank you, Richard! We’re nearly there.
- Patricia Neary-Hayward, who once saved a dog named Karma and in turn deserves all kinds of good fortune, we are so grateful for your support this week. May you come and sit beneath one of the apple trees and enjoy the solitude this orchard will bear for years to come.
- Mark Holden, thank you for your interest in this project and underlying support! Permaculture is about rediscovering the sense of wonder we all shared as children. We hope you will come learn and play alongside us!
- David Richter, your enthusiasm for all things is contagious. (And your chicken milking skills are second to none!) We thank you for your support and help on the farm buildings. It’s people like you who make projects like this possible.
- Frances Wright has narrowed the gap between now and our goal to just $461! And more importantly, you’ve contributed to breathing new life into a very beautiful ad historic property. The orchard is the primary component of an outdoor educational space for farmers and those interested in permaculture design. And you’re a part of making that happen. Thank you kindly!
- Trevor is seeking to preserve and restore edible forest growth practices in northern Michigan with his pledge. The orchard at DeYoung will host varieties of apples once common to the region, along with farming practices that utilize biomimicry.
- Meagan Brown is doing her part to help create a lasting legacy at the DeYoung property with her contribution. Thank you Meagan!
- Thanks to Ford LeBoutillier of Epiphany of Leland, we’re now just $150 from our funding goal! Thank you Ford and Cherry Republic!
- Jeff Annatoyn kindly lead us to the precipice of our goal with his generous donation! We hope Jeff and all of our Orchard Supporters will join us at the farm to watch this process unfold. Plans for the orchard are becoming reality and we are so excited to share this adventure with everyone interested in making a positive change in our agricultural system. Thank you, Jeff, for your help getting there!
- Phillip Wells took us over the finish line for our match with Cherry Republic! Phillip is one of those rare people who so eloquently moves between his work with Google and life on his parents’ farm, one of the first CSA’s in the region. It’s hard to express in words our gratitude… so, we’re getting to work now that our funding is complete. Thank you Phillip and all of the visionaries who have supported this project!
Thank you to all of our Week 4 Backers! You are making it happen!
- Patrick Simmons, your generous contribution will help preserve several antique varieties at the DeYoung property, equally protected by the Leelanau Land Conservancy. We are excited to be working with pioneer thinkers like you who share a vision for the property that will offer up gifts of apples for generations to come.
- Zane Kathryne Schwaiger has also been an enormous support behind the scenes, and today joins a growing list of financial backers for the project at DeYoung. Thank you, Zane! Her contribution will be matched by Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor.
- Thank you Rolf and Mari Hagen von Walthausen for your support of a permaculture demonstration orchard at DeYoung! You’ve been stewards of the land and living examples of the permaculture ethic that puts earth, people and fair share first. We appreciate all you do for our community.
- Gaylynn Howton, with your wonderful management skills, you might consider coming out to the farm on occassion to make sure we’re on the right track! Thank you for joining others in support of our vision to bring a fully integrated permaculture demonstration orchard to Traverse City.
- Aaron Dennis, a Traverse City native and filmmaker knows the importance of place. Aaron is the vision behind Stone Hut Studios, founded to spread the word and good works of NPO organizations and efforts around the world through film. His most recent project is being funded by a Kickstarter Campaign as well, so please consider sharing support for a wonderful and creative thinker in our region and his film, Connected by Coffee!
- Jeanne Haynes “kicked” us over the $3,000 mark! And her pledge will be matched by Cherry Republic of Glen Arbor. We’re lucky to have such a thoughtful group of community-minded folks behind our project. You are part supporters and majority inspiration. Thank you Jeanne and everyone who has contributed to bringing this orchard to life!
- Cindy Rosiek, your contribution represents a positive message to the agricultural community. The orchard at DeYoung represents an outdoor educational space for farmers and community members interested in growing food using an ecologically-friendly method. Thank you for your support.
- Janine Fierberg, join us as we explore all that is possible in planting the orchard at DeYoung. In addition to 200 apple trees, we’ll be planting nut and other fruit varieties to compliment the central orchard component and increase biodiversity at the site. Community support is valued and essential, so thank you for becoming an orchard supporter!
- Thank you Kali Marker Vasquez for becoming our latest supporter! Kali has long shared an interest in land conservation and preservation. And as a Marker, she knows how to make big thoughts become big realities. We look forward to seeing more of Kali as we complete installation of the orchard.
- Catherine Lippert is a new member of our orchard family and her pledge will be matched by Cherry Republic! Thank you for your stewardship, Catherine!
- Susan Lannin, what’s more American than apple pie? How about the ingenuity of a fully integrated apple orchard on a Conservancy-owned property? With your support, you are bringing to life a long-dormant seed of a vision for an ecologically-friendly approach to growing fruit trees in the place we all call home. Thank you!
- Brandy Mulvaine not only offered her financial support, but this fellow antique apple collector donated five trees to the farm! She said once you’ve tasted some of these antique varieties, it’s impossible to go back.
- Lisa Vintzel is sending her support all the way from New Jersey. Lisa and her family are helping build a lasting legacy for future generations at the farm. And with kids as adorable as hers, you can understand why! Thank you Lisa!
- Dean & Ellen Wagester, thank you for joining other members of our Orchard Supporter community today with your contribution! We’re nearly at the $4033 mark, at which point Cherry Republic will double your pledge! Please come visit the farm soon and watch the progress being made as we approach the growing season. Welcome and thank you!
- Michael Khadavi is starting us off this morning with his contribution toward the orchard project. Michael brings our total to $3,395, which means we’re just $638 away from Cherry Republic’s “kickstart” to get us to our goal! Thank you to all who are helping make this project a reality.
Thank you to all of our Week 3 Backers!
- Al Frye, we’ve just reached our half-way point! Thank you for your generosity and shared vision in creating an orchard space that is ecologically integrated and sustainably managed.
- Kathleen Spencer, thank you for supporting a positive change in our agricultural system with your contribution!
- Kat Eldred, a delightful song-writer, spinner, and founder of Why Knot Fiber, is looking forward to meeting our future flock of sheep and is showing her enthusiasm with her support of an antique apple tree at the DeYoung property. Thank you, Kat!
- Thomas Nelson, who works daily toward the protection of farmland in Leelanau County, I am reminded by a Wendell Berry quote: “I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.” With your support, we’ll reclaim the old orchard and make it grow again, creating a place of sunlight and shade for future generations to enjoy. Thank you.
- Stephanie Eddington is supporting the vision and orchard at DeYoung. The property was once home to apple, pear, peach, and cherry trees and will once again thrive as an orchard managed with careful, thoughtful, and proactive, ecologically friendly methods. It’s part of the permaculture ethic: Care for Earth, People, and Fair Share. Thank you for your support, Stephanie!
Thank you to all of our Week 2 Backers! Let’s keep the momentum moving forward!
- Lisa Jean pledged her support to secure two antique varieties at DeYoung, Some of these varieties developed while Baroque music was still in vogue. Hundreds of years later, these varieties still produce high quality fruit with unique and varied flavors. And contributors like Lisa are ensuring future generations will have a chance to enjoy them.
- Mary Purdey is also doing her part to secure these unique and antique varieties at DeYoung. We are humbled and grateful by the support of Mary and all of our orchard supporters. Thank you!
- Thank you, Mara Cordova, for your support! It’s people like you who will bring this dream to life.
- Matt Ricksgers is supporting positive change in agriculture with his contribution to fund a permaculture and demonstration orchard at DeYoung. Thank you, Matt!
- Jo Polk-Matthews, who is such a positive inspiration to many, is now contributing to the legacy of the DeYoung farm with her contribution. We are so grateful to our supporters who recognize the significance of this project and are helping “kick-start” it!
- Kate Yels is our latest backer! Way to keep the momentum moving forward. Kate and others are making the dream of an orchard at DeYoung a reality. Thank you.
- Special thanks to Oryana’s Steve Nance, who “kicked off” the weekend with a generous contribution toward bringing this vision to life. Steve knows first hand the value of fair share, and steering businesses and organizations toward a bottom line ethic, not just a bottom line. Thank you for your work within our community and your generosity!
- Brian Garcia is keeping the momentum going through this sunny morning, leading us to our half-way marker! Half way toward taking a leadership role as community and farmers in seeking creative and sustainable solutions to the problems modern agriculture faces today. Thank you!
Thank you to all of our Week 1 Backers! You generated the momentum to really kick-start this campaign!
A Challenge made… A Challenge Met!
Bob Render offered to match a $750 donation to our project. Please consider a group sponsorship and help us achieve this goal! UPDATE: Erick Tengelitsch met the challenge and between these two supporters, have secured 50 trees for the orchard at DeYoung!
Special thanks to the following supporters for their contributions to our orchard fund-raising campaign:
- Bob Render adopted an acre! in memory of Lucy Render, aka “Grandmama”
- Bob Lovik, who is not only helping fund the orchard; he also helped create our Kickstarter video! Bob is owner of Grand Traverse Adventure Co.
- Molly Franks, who offers energy and support on a daily basis and has also contributed in support of four trees! Thank you, Molly!
- Michelle Marker, who is backing two antique varieties in memory of her son, and our friend Matthew Noble Marker. Matt loved trees as much as we do.
- Joshua Marker out of San Francisco, CA, is preserving a slice of history with his donation. Recently, he told Samantha she is more of a Ginger Rogers, than a Marilyn Monroe, which inspired thoughts of dancing in the orchard wearing heels to aerate soil. (Samantha suggested he have his eyes checked).
- Nancy Thomas, we are so grateful for your contribution and support of this project. Thank you!
- Jenee Rowe, with the Leelanau Conservancy, who guided this process, and who works hard on behalf of the community to preserve and protect the beautiful natural spaces, farmland, and watersheds that make the Leelanau Peninsula so special to so many.
- Jamie Creason, innkeeper at the Applesauce Inn in Bellaire, sponsored a tree. We tree folks stick together! Thank you, Jamie, for your support!
- Tom & Pam Dennehy in keeping alive these special varieties and with them, the memory of Pam’s brother, Craig, and Tom’s parents, Leo and Mary Rita Dennehy.
- Julie Weeks, of Leelanau Co. just helped reserve two trees for the orchard at DeYoung. Please stop by in the coming years to enjoy a sampling of these unique and antique varieties at this beautiful, historic farmstead.
- Brad & Amanda Kik, part of our own education and inspiration, and whose work in Antrim Co. and beyond is so very much appreciated – including helping us fund the orchard project at DeYoung – thank you! Kik’s are co-founders of ISLAND, the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design in Bellaire, MI.
- April Schwaegerie, thank you for not only supporting antique varieties at DeYoung, but also for joining our mission to create a lasting legacy for generations to come.
- Kate Miller-Wilson, who is the kind of girl who will swim with sharks, but dedicate a tree to the color pink, is helping us move forward toward our goal. No one does old fashioned like this girl; she’s as antique and unique as the very trees we’re here to protect and plant and we’re hugely grateful for her ongoing love and support of this project. Thank you Kate, the Great!
- James Steed, a filmmaker voted most likely to laugh with us at our first attempt behind the camera with this campaign, knows the importance of place, the region he calls home, and of homemade apple pie. We are thankful for his support of the orchard at DeYoung.
- Bill Palladino of Michigan Land Use Institute will be the lucky recipient of a one of a kind piece of art by one of our adorable children. Bill’s generosity will help fund an orchard and educational space geared toward teaching others about a more holistic approach to farming; one that works with, rather than against, ecosystem health. Thank you, Bill, for your contribution and all your good work with MLUI.
- Michael Huey, the saying, “It is better to give than to receive,” actually comes from a biblical passage roughly translated, “Better is the apple you give than you get.” Thank you for your gift of kindness in helping us re-plant the orchard at DeYoung.
- Johnny Prime changed his name to sound more like a superhero. He’s a hero to the farm with his gift toward funding the first fully integrated permaculture apple and demonstration orchard at the DeYoung property. Thank you Johnny Prime!
- Julie Weeks upped her pledge to help secure additional trees for the orchard. Thank you, Julie!
- Jason Heppler, with Rivetal, may not live in Traverse City any longer, but he’ll have a beautiful orchard to returns for a visit.
- Telford Farm’s Ellen Fred just pledged to help a fellow farmer get an orchard growing on the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula. When Ellen isn’t practicing law, she’s milking goats! How cool is that? Thank you, Farmer!
- Farmers helping farmers. Special thanks to a very generous contribution from Bruce & Debra of Wests Windy Acres Farm in Cedar, MI. They raise grass-fed cows, pigs, and offer farm-fresh eggs for sale and are now backers for a sweet little orchard project in neighboring Elmwood Co!
- Danny Stratten! a fellow Conway School graduate, is helping steward the land from afar with his pledge to support the DeYoung orchard. Thank you, Danny!
- Levi Meeuwenberg grew up across from the DeYoung farm, so the property holds a special place in his heart. When he’s not busy being just plain awesome, Levi will always have something to do or apples to enjoy at the farm thanks to his and others contributions to this project.
- Carol Guess, did you know Henry David Thoreau called the wild apple, the “noblest of fruits?” With your pledge, you’ve helped secure these old, and often wild varieties. Thank you!
- Fellow farmer, Benjamin Brown, is working on another Conservancy-owned property in Leelanau County. His passion for sustainable practices and approach forest food systems is one we hope to model after in years to come. Thank you for your support, and for forging a path for your fellow farmers, Ben!
- Erick Tengelitsch, programmer and musician, secured enough trees to fill an acre with his generous contribution. (Erick is Samantha’s former husband and father to their three daughters, each of whom shares a reverie for the land at DeYoung.) Erick’s support lends to a legacy of stewardship, an appreciation for the orchard, and will effect a lasting positive change within the agricultural system.
- John Kovacs is keeping the momentum going with his pledge to support the orchard at DeYoung. We’re grateful to folks like John, who are reaching out to support small farmers with big ideas. Thank you, John!
- Mait Walker, whose pioneering spirit is so reminiscent of his mother (Jayne Leatherman Walker, Eco Learning Center). And who knows how deeply rooted this love of farming can be. To quote Martin Luther, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Thank you, Mait!
- Alison Gardner Biggs is keeping us moving forward toward a dream fulfilled of children running beneath the some-day tall canopy of apple trees, and filberts, and mulberry. Your support rests not just in your pledge, but in the shade one-day casts by those beautiful old apple trees.
- Michelle Moore, who is busy working with an environmental firm in town, still finds time to dedicate to projects like the one at DeYoung. Her support has long been ongoing and we are so appreciative! Sometimes it’s the long, thoughtful conversations that sustain us, and today, a it’s the pledge to secure five trees – lending to the installation of an orchard that will help sustain our community. Thank you kindly, Michelle!
- Ryan Eby, a fellow farmer, pledged to inspire change in our agricultural system with a permaculture orchard at DeYoung. His contribution will secure several beautiful and long-lived trees for generations to enjoy. Thank you, Ryan!
- Kristen Tebo! Thank you for joining forces with so many others who understand the significance in preserving our wild spaces. The orchard at DeYoung will grow to integrate with the native ecosystem, supplying wildlife with habitat, people with food, and biomass for soil. Thank you!
- Adam Boisvert: in his book, An Orchard, Jeffrey Stepakoff wrote, “An apple tree is just like a person. In order to thrive, it needs companionship that’s similar to it in some ways, but quite different than others.” Adam is the kind of friend who weathers all seasons and offers a kind of complexity and uniqueness a single variety offers the whole of the orchard. We are happy to have him as part of our orchard family. Thank you!
- Cathy Montgomery must understand the joy of freshly baked apple pie or pressed cider. Her pledge will one day yield such wonderful pleasures.
And thank you to all who are sharing word of the campaign. We are so appreciative of your offers to spread the word and volunteer!
This list is updated periodically. For a complete list of contributions so far, please visit our Kickstarter Page. Thank you kindly!