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Posted: 06/26/13

Westview Orchards to
celebrate bicentennial

Observer Staff Writer

      Westview Orchards in Washington Township is opening its farm for a day of celebration amongst its 73,000 days of family-owned operations.
       The orchard is celebrating 200 years of farming in the Romeo area with a bicentennial celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 29.
       Katrina Schumacher and her sister, Abigail Jacobson, are the current co-owners of the farm. Both expressed an appreciation for the generations before them for keeping the farm going for two centuries.
       "Through it all we've somehow managed to survive, so it shows the tenacity of our family, and not only did we survive but we changed with the times," Schumacher said.
       To celebrate the milestone, a myriad of free activities have been planned for visitors, including 30-minute guided wagon tours, exhibits and the attractions of the farm such as a petting zoo, obstacle course and 40-foot slide.
       Presentations will be held during the event on freezing strawberries and making jam, tips about smart gardening and worm composting. All presentations will be led by experts from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension or Macomb Fresh.
       "It should be a lot of fun for people that want an educational tour and demonstrations of what we do," Jacobson said.
       Guests are invited to join in the presentation of a bicentennial marker at 11:30 a.m., with Washington Township Supervisor Dan O'Leary serving as master of ceremonies.
       A number of special guests are expected to be in attendance, including senators, local and county politicians and representatives from farming associations and historical societies. Gov. Rick Snyder even is slated to make an appearance.
       "That's very cool for us and extra cool for Macomb County," Schumacher said.
       A farming family
       The 188-acre farm has been passed down for six generations. In 1813 Michael Bowerman established a small farm and orchard after serving in the War of 1812. The farm would've been in the Detroit area, but he instead chose land near Indian Village<later renamed Romeo<and cleared it for farming purposes.
       Bowerman passed the farm down to his son, George, who expanded it and passed it onto Bowerman's grandson, Byron, after he passed away.
       Byron married Martha Edna and had five children, with one of their sons, George, working on the farm with his father. Byron asked another of his sons, Harvey, to return to help George, and he built a home in the 1920s that still stands today.
       A major turning point was when Harvey decided to sell some peaches right out of the truck at the farm instead of shipping them to a crowded Eastern Market in 1930. From that point on he expanded the farm operations to grow and market crops, establishing a farm market structure still used today.
       Harvey's son, Armand, joined the farm, but his sudden death in 1981 caused one of Harvey's daughters, Katherine, and her girls<Katrina and Abigail<to take charge of the operations.
       Schumacher said the biggest change in the orchard is using more technology, like an enviro-weather station provided by MSU Extenstion that helps predict when crops must be treated.
       "For me looking ahead, I see more partnerships with community," Schumacher said.
       Jacobson said a lot of work has gone into changing it from a traditional operation with livestock to agro-tourism with an ice cream store and bakery.
       "We're very grateful to our current employees as well as those in the past and customers that have been with us for generations," Jacobson said. "Our whole community has been very, very supportive of us."

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