Our history really starts in the 1880s when what is now Crane Orchards, was cleared and planted by H.H. Hutchins. Since the property included frontage on a beautiful inland lake, the lake itself was named Hutchins Lake.
In 1917 a young Michigan Agricultural College graduate Henry Blakeslee Crane and his wife, Muriel (who also graduated from M.A.C.) started on their life journey together here at Crane Orchards. They lived, loved and farmed here together, raising a family and helping to build the community of Fennville until H.B.s death in 1968. Muriel followed him in 1974.
In 1950, their youngest son Robert (Bob) returned from the Navy and married Lue. They farmed together and raised kids. Their sons Gary and Rob are both farmers today. Gary and his wife Sandy own Gary Crane Farm across the road from Crane Orchards. Rob, his wife Maria, and two of their sons Taylor and Trevor are partners at Crane Orchards.
In 1967 Rob’s Mom and Dad, Bob and Lue Crane, were at a crossroads in their lives and with their family fruit farm. The farm had been in Bob’s family since 1917. It was a beautiful farm, 200 acres of gently rolling hills just four miles inland from majestic Lake Michigan. It had all the right qualities for growing fruit. However, the problems the Cranes were having were the same ones small farmers across the U.S. were having. There was no money in a small family farm. Corporate farms and foreign imports were taking their toll on the traditional family farm.
Lue Crane began promoting Crane Orchards in 1967 with custom fruit baskets made up in her kitchen. Pressing cider and selling fruit soon turned into providing food to the people who visited the farm. By 1972, Fennville’s agritourism industry, and Crane's Pie Pantry & Restaurant, was born.
The restaurant & pie pantry is now run by two of Lue and Bob’s daughters, Becky and Laura, and one of their grandsons, Rob, who represents the third generation of the Crane’s family in the business. Separately owned and operated, the Orchard and the Restaurant work closely together to continue to honor and preserve the traditions and values that Bob and Lue instilled in the businesses for many years.
Today, Crane Orchards is one of the finest u-pick orchards in Michigan. With over 20 different varieties of apples, 10 varieties of peaches and sweet cherries for the discriminating u-picker to choose from, the scenery is breathtaking. The fall of 2002 saw the first corn maze for visitors to get lost in; there is a completely new and different maze design every year. Also, hayrides around the farm are available for folks to enjoy on the weekends in the fall.
We love our farm, and hope you visit us for picking this fall, with the knowledge that we appreciate and value everyone that decides to support our family-owned orchard.