American Farmers Are Growing Old, With Spiraling Costs Keeping Out Young: The nation's farmers are 17 years older than the average American worker.
Andrea Stone for National Geographic; Published September 19, 2014
Abra Berens (at left) and Jess Piskor are business partners on their Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport, Michigan. The small-scale farm sells produce through a CSA and at the local farmers market, and hosts private dinners. Photograph by Fritz Hoffmann, National Geographic
TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan—Art McManus slowly threads his 2001 white GMC pickup through a rolling grove of cherry trees, their limbs heavy with crimson fruit. Eyeing his 25-year-old grandson working with a crew of farmhands, he stops to watch them attach a mechanical shaker that grips a tree and violently rocks its cherries into a canvas catch frame and conveyor.
"Each one of those trees is like a child—when a limb breaks, it bothers me," says McManus, who planted this orchard of maraschino cocktail cherries more than a decade ago. "It took all this time to get it to this point, and I'd like to keep it going."
But the 73-year-old owner of the 150-acre Southview Orchards isn't sure he can make that happen. None of McManus's three grown children wants to take over the tart cherry farm.
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