Cherry Point Farm and Market in Oceana County is as deliciously tart and sweet as the cherries it produces, as imaginative and welcoming as its lavender labyrinth, and as chock full of history and stories like its owner delights in telling. A fourth-generation farmer, Cherry Point owner Barbara Bull began her career selling cherries and pies as a young girl at a card table stand her older sister set up.
Barbara’s early start as a pint-sized entrepreneur paved the way to what is now Cherry Point Farm and Market. From around the country and world, families visit Cherry Point Farm and Market—not only to snatch a gorgeous quart of cherries on their travels, but also to visit the buildings, lavender labyrinth and herb garden. Tourists and locals sometimes are fortunate to catch a fish boil, watching Barbara and her team go through the almost-scientific steps and listening for stories peppered into this timeless event. Visitors can also enjoy Tuesday Teas or Sunday’s Flapjacks and Fruit. No matter what the event, in the midst of it all is Cherry Point’s owner, Barbara, telling stories, listening to stories and quietly taking mental notes.
“I’ve always loved history and storytelling,” Barbara explained. “I would listen to my grandfather tell his stories about our family history, and his stories made those people real to me.”
On the occasion of Bull’s fifth decade on the farm, she got an idea.
“I had spent 50 consecutive years working at the farm market—listening to people’s stories and telling my stories. I knew I wasn’t retiring or getting a gold watch,” Bull jokes. “So, I decided to tell the story of my first 50 years on the farm.”
And that’s what she did. Armed with a love of reading and writing and a snowy off-season, Bull wrote the love story of herself and Cherry Point Farm—”A Point in Time.”
With each season after that, as she puts on a picking bucket, prunes trees or braids strudels in the market, Bull is either dreaming up improvements for the farm or new stories. Her second book, “Blackberry Ridge,” was a collection of newspaper articles by a local writer, Charles W. Jay, who was one of the original settlers in the area. The book combines stories from Jay and townspeople that together capture life in the late 1800s.
“It was amazing to research Jay, read his articles in the paper and get a glimpse at life in that time,” Bull said. “[He gave me] such wonderful insights—thoughts and concerns on health, weather, community development. The most amazing thing was how little has changed. We’re having these same conversations today.”
One particularly snowy January, Bull had another idea.“I looked out the window and it was still snowing, and I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll do another book.’”
That book became her first fiction novel, a cozy mystery called “Cloud Cottage” that, given Bull’s mental note-taking, takes place on the shore of Lake Michigan in the lush fruit belt and is unsurprisingly full of long-time family connections and traditions. It’s the first of three in the series.
For locals and travelers not familiar with Cherry Point Market, it’s well worth the visit to Oceana County. The sweet cherries or mouthwatering pastries are not quickly forgotten. An experience at the farm generates repeat customers and even encourages strangers to become friends.
Bull encourages visitors to take their time while wandering through the labyrinth like a meditative experience. Some lucky farm-goers who make a lasting impression may find their way into Bull’s next novel. Of course, the most compelling character Barbara has created is the one she is in real life.
“You can only hope you have enough time to accomplish all the dreams you’ve dreamed up,” said Bull. “All you can do is follow your instincts, listen to where you need to be and what you need to be doing and you’ll get there.”
Cherry Point Farm and Market allows visitors to indulge in delicious treats, including cherries, sweet jams, and baked goods. But the highlight is the lavender labyrinth.
Be sure to wander through the massive and stunning lavender labyrinth filled with calming aroma and colorful hues.
Bull teamed up with local artist and architect Conrad Heiderer in 2001 to create the flower-shaped design, allowing visitors to walk through rows and rows of perfectly arranged flowers with an herb garden at its center.
The lavender peaks in July and August and then dries out and is picked once fall arrives.
Bull encourages visitors to take their time while wandering through the garden, slowing down to breathe in the lavender-scented air and enjoy a meditative experience.
Barbara Bull, owner of Cherry Point Farm
and Market, is a member of Great Lakes
To learn more, visit cherrypointmarket.net or
call 231-861-2029. Cherry Point Farm and Market is located at 9600 West Buchanan Road, Shelby, MI 49455.