edward & sherlyn grzesik
big fork, mt
We converted from a conventional cherry orchard to an organic cherry orchard approximately 7 years ago. The fact of the matter is, we have been in the cherry business for 15 years. For approimately 9 of those years, we grew conventional cherries. In essence, we sold the conventional orchard to focus solely on organic cherries. Our cherries are marketed through Western Montana’s Growers Co-op located in Arlee, MT. They handle our local market and Growers Organic handles our distribution in the Colorado market.
Keep in mind that these high altitude cherries are hand picked by approximately 20 harvest workers who come from the state of Washington. The types of cherries we grow are Lamberts, which we pick first, followed by Lapins, as they ripen shortly after the Lamberts. In most cases, they are picked later than the Washington state harvest. Due to the Glacier climate, high altitude, the location by Flathead Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi river, and the local weather conditions, we experience warm days (approximately 80 degrees) and cool nights (approximately 50 degrees) and are able to produce sweeter, larger cherries, thus making this a prime area to grow Flathead Lake Organic Sweet Cherries.