My grandfather, Raymond Walter Porter, purchased 60 acres of farm land in Goodrich, Michigan in 1919. He was a machinist by trade, but decided it would be fun to have a farm.
He planted the first apple trees in 1921. One of the original trees is still here and still produces apples! He also planted cherries and plums. He grew other field crops as well, but apples were his passion. He bought a cider press in 1939.
The apples were stored in a “Michigan basement” until 1956 when my father, Roger W. Porter, built a cold storage. Apples were sold door to door in the 1930’s. My grandfather died of a heart attack on his birthday in April 1949. So my father, Roger, returned home to the farm from Iowa State, where he was majoring in horticulture, and took over the farm.
Roger built a thriving business growing and selling apples and cider. At the peak of production, the farm produced an average of 12,000 bushels of apples a year, with a peak year of 18,000 bushels. Most of the apples were sold through the Farm Market here on at Porters Orchard or made into cider. Roger taught Ray how to blend the apples to make great apple cider. In December 2008 at a state wide competition for “The Best Apple Cider in Michigan“, Porter’s Orchard won a 2nd place award!
In 1976 a new addition was added, an expanded farm market and donut shop. Maxine Porter, my mother, became a master donut maker with the help of three employee. The donuts are made with apple cider in the batter, which keeps them nice and moist. Three varieties are made: plain, cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar. When donuts are being made, the sweet smell fills the air, and brings in the families waiting to enjoy them.
A bakery was started in 1997. Along with the donuts, fresh baked pies and warm breads were now available. Hot apple dumplings, glazed apple fritters, cinnamon rolls, apple and cherry crisp and delicious cookies! A petting farm was added in 2003 and continues to grow and change each year!
The family partnership lasted until my father’s death in 2005. My wife Dee and I, are continuing in my father’s footsteps here at Porter’s Orchard.
By Ray Porter
Third Generation at Porter’s Orchard