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31 Days of Giving

31 Days of Giving, 2014

Cherry Republic is excited to share one of the most meaningful practices of the year: Our month of giving. We did it last year. And the year before.

Our donations come from our 1% Off the Top program where one cent of every dollar we make is put aside for protecting and improving the quality of life in our great state. Generosity is fundamental to every religion and we hope to inspire giving to be a core value to every business as well.

Cherry Republic raises money a second way -- through a refundable 1% tariff in our stores that goes to farmland preservation and strengthening Michigan’s small farm economy. This is our customers' money and we value it immensely. A farmer's livelihood is based on how well they give back to the land. As a society, all of our livelihoods are based on how well we support the farmers.

We hope to give over $130,000 to organizations in December.

December 31st: Buckets of Rain (Tariff) $2,000

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 10.21.27 AMEach December, the Executive Director at Buckets of Rain—Chris Skellenger and his wife Sue work in our warehouse at Cherry Republic. Their organization is creating small crop gardens, and developing the gardeners themselves, in downtown Detroit. It is winter, though, and the ground is frozen, so they help us out during our Holiday rush. It is a good thing—they help us, we help them and Detroit benefits as well.

December 30th: Michigan League of Conservation Voters (Tariff) $4,000

This donation goes to MLCV’s program dedicated to educating Grand Rapids counties on the economic benefits of farmland preservation. Their goal is to preserve the farms ringing Michigan’s second biggest city. This isn’t our first donation to our friends at the Michigan League of Conservation Voters who are working to foster better decisions on conservation issues all over Michigan.

December 29th: Leelanau Conservancy (Tariff) $7,500

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 10.14.08 AMThis is an annual end of year check to the Leelanau Conservancy. We’ve given them $1 on each sale of Cherry Republic’s popular Conservancy wine, which usually adds up to another $5000, as well. This money goes to helping cover the costs of running their very successful farmland preservation program.

December 28th: Urban Ecology Center $2,000

This donation goes to a former classmate Ken Leinbach and his organization—The Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee. His concept is great—create wild places in the city and then teach kids about nature. We hope Milwaukee’s unique urban wild spaces created by the Urban Ecology Center are spread to other cities across America.

December 27th: SEEDS (Tariff) $3,000

This is a new local donation for us. SEEDS works to provide opportunities and education to kids in need. Our donation goes toward supporting their farmland programs which are a 5 acre community garden plot at the Grand Traverse Commons, a farmer in residency program and teaching their youth corps good gardening skills.Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 10.23.54 AM

December 26th: NW Michigan Horticultural Research (Tariff) $5,000

This donation is for our friends at the NWMHRC who conduct research and support cherry farmers across northern Michigan. Each season they help farms meet the many challenges of pests, frost, mold, bee shortages. In the past our donation has been used to help support young cherry farmers make the business and educational connections to succeed.

December 25th: Washtenaw Camp Placement Association $2000

The Washtenaw Camp Placement Association is a group that raises money to send Ann Arbor kids to camp in northern Michigan. I was a camp counselor at Camp Innisfree (Now Camps Kohanna/Leelanau) when some of these Ann Arbor kids would come to Innisfree. The camp was terrific and life changing for them and it is great to know that this important opportunity to get kids outside in a good environment is still going strong.


December 24th: MLUI (Tariff) $5000

MLUICherry Repubic has been there from the beginning for the Michigan Land Use Institute, which works on land, energy, water, farming issues in northern Michigan. Cherry Republic’s president was president of MLUI’s board of directors for 6 years from 1998 to 2004. This donation is earmarked for giving their Executive Director, the dynamic Hans Voss, some professional development and support by covering the cost of him joining the local Key group of Vistage International.

December 23rd: Friends of Sleeping Bear $5,000

FriendsThis money is earmarked to go to carbon dating an area of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, which has never been done. A year ago, our president and his cousin Andrew Moore found a hundred sherds of native American pottery on the dunes. This past fall, a group of experts came and studied the find and took sand specimens for further study. These specimens, when carbon dated, will offer us a unique chance to see how our favorite dunes and shorelines have changed over the last 10,000 years.


December 22nd: Tillian Farm (Tariff) $3,500

Cherry Republic continues to support the Tilian Farm Development Center in Ann Arbor. Tilian has some excellent preserved farmland with good soils and a strategic location for small crop farming. The land is offered out in one to 5 acre parcels to small farmers who share barn space, tractor usage and other amentities for a small fee. This money will go toward continuing to build this innovative farm complex that is incubating new farm businesses.


December 21st: Traverse City Health Clinic $3,000

Cherry Republic doesn’t often donate to the medical world, our focus has always been to the environment and quality of life. However, it is such an important issue in America that most people face every day. This money goes to offering opportunities to see a health practitioner in Traverse City for those that cannot afford it.

December 20th: Empire Area Community Emergency Fund (Tariff) $2,200

This donation is to support this quiet local group helping needy Glen Lake families get thru tough times. This gift is made in the name of our employees; some of whom have been a part of this group from the beginning, whether as givers or receivers.

December 19th: Village Focus International $2,000

Village Focus International is the lone international organization that we support. VFI is located in Laos and works to provide schools, clean water, health clinics, and capacity, knowledge, and participation in decision making on land related issues. This capacity is for villages in the mountains of Laos that have no government services societal decision making structure at all.


December 18th: Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear $4,500

This donation goes to our friends at PHSB, who are protecting the history, culture and landscape of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We are excited to help PHSB meet their goals of telling and showing the great story of this land before the national park came to being. This money is focused on helping PHSB acquire the equipment and capacity to maintain the beautiful hay fields and former orchards in the Port Oneida Historical District in the national park.



December 17th: Circle of Blue $5,000

This important money goes to Carl Ganter, Executive Director at Circle of Blue. CirlceofbluelogoIf life had worked out differently, Carl would have taken over his family’s Ski Resort-- Sugar Loaf, but instead he has founded the leading organization working to correct the archaic policies and practices causing the world’s dwindling fresh water. I could write more about them, but if you have some time, take a moment to see what great writers and photographers can do when writing and speaking on local, national and international water issues.

Circle of Blue Bob and Carl the Executive Director of Circle of Blue walking along the shore of Lake Michigan

December 16th: Michigan Environmental Council $2,500

Cherry Republic tends to spend most of it’s time and money working locally to Michigan Environmental Council protect northern Michigan. But sometimes, our money can be best spent in the hands of those working to influence our leaders in Lansing. Chris Kolb, Executive Director at the MEC is our spokesman for the woods and wilds of Michigan.


December 15th: Little Traverse Conservancy $5,000

Little Traverse ConservancyThis is the first time we have given to the Little Traverse Conservancy and the donation is going toward preserving the 110 acre Parsons farm with a mile of frontage along US-31. The Parsons property is also kitty corner to two other conservation easements that protect about two miles of scenic landscape. This property is the largest remaining priority parcel along the Conservancy’s US-31 Scenic Corridor Protection Project. It includes 90 acres of “prime soils”, and 77 percent of the property is in active agriculture or sugar bush production.

Local farmers Local farmers from Little Traverse Conservancy

December 14th: FLOW $3,000

This donation goes to our longtime friends at FLOW who are dedicated to reducing the threatsflowto our Great Lake’s watershed. The most important issue FLOW is working on is pressuring the state to regulate Line 5, the twin 61 year old pipelines that pump nearly 23 million gallons of oil a day underneath the Straits of Mackinac-- “the absolute worst possible place for an oil spill in the entire world!”, says one international observer. FLOW spends a lot of time telling our state leaders and every citizen that the state has a perpetual duty to protect our public resources of land, water and air-- and The Great Lakes!

Bob and Liz Kirkwood the Executive Director of FLOW in the Great Hall Bob and Liz Kirkwood the Executive Director of FLOW in the Great Hall

December 13th: Glen Arbor Township $2,500

Glen Arbor township will be finishing up our master plan this summer. In most townships, this plan gets stacked on a shelf and forgotten until another 10 years comes and we do it all over again. It is our hope that this money will go toward keeping some of the concepts alive by taking the words and making drawings of what our town could look like if we follow our vision. We all see better in pictures than words and if we can see it, we can make it real.

December 12th: Institute of Sustainable Living in Art, Nature and Design (ISLAND) $8,000

ISLAND logoThis donation goes to the dedicated and talented crew at ISLAND who are working hard to provide talent, expertise and inspiration for the growing small farm community in northern Michigan. ISLAND is teaching practices that are sustainable to the soil and also a lifestyle that is sustainable to the family. But we will let them talk for themselves.

Here they are helping farmers gather to learn from each other:

Or they also coordinate pure teaching workshops as well

December 11th: Leelanau School $5,000

This marks the 5th year we’ve donated to our neighbors down the road. This boarding school nestled in the arms of Sleeping Bear Bay has been life changing for many high schoolers. And this school and it’s facilities and staff have been important members of our community. Cherry Republic is proud to support their work.

Leelanau School teachers and administrators Leelanau School teachers and tdministrators with Bob and Todd


December 10th: Moross Greenway - $2,500

Moross Greenway Project

The Moross Greenway Project is a historic collaborative effort of volunteer residents of the City of Detroit and its suburban neighborhoods who have partnered to transform and landscape the eight islands between the I-94 expressway and St. John Hospital.

Moross Greenway Project Moross Greenway Project planning

This donation is given on behalf of Rosann Kovalcik the owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Groose Pointe. Rosann is a long time friend and her store has sold our Cherry Republic products for nearly 15 years. We asked her why and she said it’s because Cherry Republic donates to so many great causes. We thought it would be fun surprise for her to find Cherry Republic supporting an important project that she is involved with.

December 9th: $Undisclosed to a local family in need

There is a longstanding family up here that homesteaded forever just below the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I was the same age as their kids, when the park came and bought out their farms and tore them down and brought the land back to nature. Now one of those kids is raising a family and his kids go to school with mine. But they’ve hit hard times as my former classmates wife is sick and unable to work and they are struggling with bills. It feels good and neighborly for all of us at Cherry Republic to give to a proud family who are important members of our community.

December 8th: Northern MI Small Farm Conference - $3,750

This is a terrific conference attended by a thousand small farmers in northern Michigan that Northern Mi Small Farm Conferencetakes place January 24th at the Grand Traverse Resort. Families gather and learn from leading farmers from all over the nation. It is also a chance to socialize and collaborate and plan for next year. We’ve supported this important conference for many years and have been looking for a way to give more. Since they have moved the event to a huge venue just outside Traverse City, we thought we would help the conference bring in a well known speaker that will fill the resort to the gills with farmers and wanna be farmers alike. Winona LaDuke is the speaker.

Winona LaDuke Winona LaDuke

Winona is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development, renewable energy and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, LaDuke has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues. She is the author of five books

December 7th: Art’s Council of Greater Kalamazoo - $1,500

This donation is being made in the name of Nature Connection in Kalamazoo. TheyArts Council Greater Kalamazoo consistently win the yearly chili cook off with our cherry salsa and have asked us to make a donation to their neighbors who they share a building with, the Art’s council of Greater Kalamazoo. When Laurie, the manager of the Nature Connection in Kalamazoo heard about our “31 days of Giving” she emailed us right away wanting to give back to an organization who supports all types of art and mediums in Kalamazoo. Thanks for the recommendation Laurie, and keep making award winning chili!

December 6th: Legacy Land Conservancy - $5,000

This is the second year we are supporting this great conservancy in the Ann Arbor area. This donation goes toward supporting their annual member event and fundraiser in June. The Legacy Land Conservancy is Michigan’s oldest conservancy and works to preserve farms and green spaces in the Ann Arbor area. Check out their website for more information.

Legacy Land Conservancy

December 5th: Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy - $7,500

Today we handed a $7,500 check to our friends working hard to preserve farmland in northern Michigan. It is the biggest check that we have ever given the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and it is in recognition to the great job the staff did in shaping the Federal Farm bill for everyone in Michigan’s benefit. This check is unrestricted and will likely cover administration costs within the conservancy -- like paying the salary of our good friend Brian Bourdages, the farmland Program Manager.

In the photo below Brian updates me on the Maple Bay farm, Acme Township's successful farmland preservation millage, Joyfield Rd farmland sales and plans -- so many great things happening.

Bob Sutherland & Brian Bourdages Brian from Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy receiving donation from Cherry Republic
Bob Sutherland & Brian Bourdages Brian on behalf of GTRLC accepting donation from Cherry Republic

December 4th: Special Days Camps - $3,000

A check of $3,000 goes to Special Days Camps based out of Ann Arbor Michigan. Special Days was suggested to Cherry Republic by Mary Jo Reilly from Haslett, Michigan. This group provides meaningful camp and outdoor experiences in the summer and winter for children with cancer and their siblings.

Mary Jo has a special place in her heart for this organization and has sent her two boys there. “It was the best thing we ever could have done!” Says Mary.

Special Days Camp Group Special Days Camp Group

December 3rd: Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail - $10,000

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

Congratulations to our favorite bike trail, which is still only halfway toward completion. This check for $10,000 will go towards meeting an early pledge of $100,000 we made when this trail was just a dream.

Cherry Republic has raffled a Chevrolet Volt, we’ve auctioned items, and mostly, we’ve sent checks over the last 7 years. With this check, and with checks we've written in the names of our employees, we've donated $115,000 to this terrific trail.

Sleeping Bear HeritageTrail Bike riding on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

December 2nd: SMOCK, Kids Food Baskets, and Boots for Kids - $1,000 each

These next donations all came from our Orchard Report readers who responded to our request for their favorite charity or nonprofit. SMOCK (a local art studio for kids), Kids Food Baskets (Grand Rapids based organization helping stop childhood hunger) and Boots for Kids (Traverse City organization making sure kids are warm this winter) will each be receiving $1,000. Each of these organizations helps children in Michigan.

December 1st: Leslie Science and Nature Center - $3,500Leslie Science and Nature Center

Our first recipient for the month is Leslie Science and Nature Center for $3,500. They educate and inspire children and adults to discover, understand, and respect their natural environment. Their grounds, trails, and raptor enclosures are open every day from sunrise to sunset, completely free of charge and are located in Ann Arbor.

Leslie Science and Nature Center Leslie Science and Nature Center

This is our second year of donating to Leslie Science and Nature Center. We were given a strong recommendation from Chris Kolb from the Michigan Environmental Council. And he was right! Leslie Science and Nature Center is doing great things and run by terrific and gracious people. (We’ve never received so many thank you’s from an organization’s board before!)