I recently visited McCallum’s Orchard & Cider Mill in Jeddo, MI (located in the thumb) to pick fresh, juicy strawberries and cherries. Call me naive, but “berries” don’t come to mind when I read “orchard” and/or “cider mill.” It turns out McCallum’s offers so much more than apples.
My sons and I went into the main building first to get our bearings. We were greeted by a sweet lady getting the cider slushie machine going for the day (more on that deliciousness later!). Delisa, formerly in the healthcare industry, is very enthusiastic about her work on the orchard. In fact, she didn’t refer to it as work at all, but rather as a “paid hobby.” Delisa must have said she loved working at McCallum’s about five times as she proudly showed us around.
As one might easily guess, McCallum’s Orchard & Cider Mill is primarily acclaimed for their cider, donuts, and U-pick apples. The orchard keeps consistent, daily hours in the fall time.
McCallum’s Berry Season
Berry season is technically McCallum’s off-season. If you would like to pick your own berries you will need to call or text McCallum’s owner, Ray, daily for their hours at 810-887-8774. Checking their Facebook page may also be helpful.
*I’ve ascertained needing to confirm U-pick hours and/or making reservations to do so is quite common among most berry farms and the like.
Delisa walked with us to the strawberries and proceeded to point out the ripe rows we could plunder. She told us they have a variety of strawberries planted in the orchard but admitted the signage was poor; she could not tell me any names and what berries were where.
Again, my naivety worked to my advantage. I didn’t realize strawberries were so diverse and therefore was not disappointed by this. However, if you know your stuff and are shopping for something specific I can see this being an issue.
*Just so you’re aware, after delving into some online reviews it appears all the crops on the orchard could benefit from new signposts.
My 5 and 3-year-old boys enjoyed crouching over strawberries in the hot sun for a total of twelve berries at best.
They came up with other interesting things to do… for instance, this became my son’s “strawberry pet” that needed to be kept separate from the rest. My boy asked me to put it in my pocket! Aren’t kids the cutest?
McCallum’s Kids Zone
I’m almost certain the reason my kids made hasty work of the strawberry picking was due to McCallum’s Kids Zone.
McCallum’s Kids Zone is a spacious area with several play structures. We frequent many a playground, this one may be a bit weathered but my boys loved it nonetheless. They especially enjoyed the red, conjoined spaceship-looking things (pictured below).
Within the Kids Zone, there was a gaggle of goats and chickens. Delisa rejoined us in the play area with feed and asked if we would like to help cater to the animals. Of course we would; I have two happy helpers!
While tossing treats to the adorable goats a farm worker rolled up on his tractor. My family met Willie, a Vietnam Veteran turned field hand, a fine and friendly American if I do say so myself (and I would know as a military wife!).
A Personal Tour
Willie went above and beyond in showing my kids and me around parts of the 80-acre property. Thirteen of those acres are woods, ten rotate between corn and soybeans, and the rest of the acreage largely harbors fruit trees.
On our unofficial guided tour, I learned McCallum’s is celebrating its 100th year. To my astonishment, the orchard has historic cherry, apricot, and granny smith apple trees that have been on the grounds since the start and still produce (weather permitting) to this day.
After a quick cherry-picking pitstop, Willie showed us their 30 bee hives provided by Queen Bee Enterprises in Deckerville, MI. The bees are, of course, essential for the reproduction of plants and food crops. You can buy the fruits of these bees’ labor, pure honey, and more goodies in McCallum’s central barn.
On our way back to the entrance, Willie revealed and explained his project for the day. Willie was “running wires” over baby apple trees. The process looked to be time-consuming but its function is important. The wires will encourage the trees to grow outward rather than upward so that apples will be easier to reach. Again, salient to a U-pick orchard.
A Place For Reflection
As Willie, the kids, and I approached the barn to shop, we saw a man watering the rows of strawberries. Willie introduced Ray, Navy Veteran and owner of McCallum’s Orchard & Cider Mill.
I expressed to Ray my gratitude toward Willie and Delisa for being so generous with their time and offering a unique experience to my family. I did not anticipate that level of kindness and it was restorative.
Please, go make memories at McCallum’s Orchard & Cider Mill. It may look a bit worn or untidy but understand it is a small business having trouble finding enough staff like so many other places are these days. Go and know that McCallum’s core workers are quality people doing their best to serve you and create one-of-a-kind moments.
Other Ways to Visit
If you don’t make it out to the orchard in Jeddo there are other options to experience McCallum’s goodness. They recently opened a brick and mortar located in downtown Port Huron’s “The Lot.”
Additionally, McCallum’s sets up their new “Mobile Orchard” food truck that makes donuts right on the truck! That’s right, HOT orchard donuts to order are now available throughout the summer at all kinds of fairs and festivals in the thumb area.
You can’t go wrong with either of these choices as they both offer McCallum‘s famous fresh donuts, apple cider slushies, and strawberry lemonade slushies made with puréed orchard strawberries.
My boys and I can’t wait to visit our friends again on the orchard and pick more of their produce or find something entirely new to try; local maple syrup, jams, barbecue sauces, the list goes on.
We left McCallum’s with refreshing apple cider slushies in hand, smiles on our faces, and most importantly — fond memories in mind. Thank you, McCallum’s. See you soon!