The oldest farm in Michigan happens to be on one of our islands…not Beaver, not Mackinac, Bois Blanc, Drummond, Isle Royale, Manitou, or any of the others that you might expect…..but the answer is found on Grosse Ile in the Detroit River.

These days the farm is referred to as Westcroft Gardens and has been owned by the same family since July 6, 1776. This stretchy island was bought from the local Native Americans that same year and the owner soon began harvesting apples, cherries, grapes, hay, peaches, and pears.

Being on this island gave the owners ample space for their farm: 150 acres worth. Those acres grew massive amounts of hay, which made their fortune. The hay was sold to feed the mainland horses that were relied on to pull buggies, wagons, plows, carriages, and carts. Once the automobile arrived and pushed horses aside, hay was not in great demand anymore. Parcels of the land were sold off to make some income, dwindling the property down to the current 27 acres.

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During the Great Depression in the 1930s, new owners sold trees and plants, advertising that anyone could buy “anything you can fit into your car: $2.” This venture didn’t work too well, money was lost, phone service was cut off, and the family depended on wild rabbits for their meals. However, as the years went on, the farm became a successful nursery farm featuring azaleas, rhododendrons, evergreens, and cherry trees.

Westcroft Gardens currently has space for private parties, weddings, graduations, receptions, etc. A walk through this place is pretty magnificent…especially in the fall.

Not bad for a farm that’s been managed by the same family through seven (so far) generations.

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