2006 Distinguished Service Award

Don and Bob Gregory

Cherry Bay Orchard’s farm was born out of a discussion at the Farm House Fraternity at Michigan State University during the late 60’s and early 70’s. This discussion turned into reality in 1972 when Bob Gregory and Norm, Dean, and Gene Veliquette organized their farms in Leelanau and Antrim Counties into Cherry Ke Inc. Bob managed the farms in Leelanau County. The operation grew through leased and custom managed orchards. 

Don Gregory joined the operation full time in 1974. By 1978, expansion in the Leelanau enterprise brought Bob Gregory back to the operation where he and Don adopted a co-management concept that continues today. Since its inception, the farms have been managed as separate enterprises. In 1995, they split into separate business entities, with Leelanau Enterprise becoming Cherry Bay Orchards Inc. Tart cherries have historically been the primary focus of the operation. Since 1972, the operation was vertically integrated into the pitting and freezing of tart cherries through the relationship with its sister company, Great Lakes Packing Company. 

In the late 90’s, the farming operation expanded into Southern Michigan with 300 plus acres and became a Pro-Fac member. Today, the 2,000 plus acre organization is 60% tart cherries, 20% sweet cherries, and 20% apples and other fall fruit. Cherry Bay Orchards is one of the founding members of Shoreline Fruit Inc., a grower-marketing cooperative. In 2001, it became a partner in Atwater Foods LLC, a fruit drying operation in New York and in 2006, a continuous dryer was installed in the Michigan operation. Cherry Bay Orchards is a family run operation involving Don’s wife, Ann, and their four children, and Bob’s wife, Dianne, and their four children. 

Don and Bob have been active in numerous organizations. Some of the positions Don has served on are Cherry Industry Promotion Task Force Chairman, Cherry Industry Advisory Board Chairman and Board member, and a CMI and Michigan Cherry Committee member. Bob has served on the Board of the Michigan State Horticultural Society and as President. He is an MSHS Trust Committee Trustee and Past Chairman of the Red Tart Cherry Information program and MSU Cherry Breeding Committee. Both are active in their churches, local communities, MACMA, and with Farm Bureau. 

The Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to present the Distinguished Service Award to Don and Bob Gregory.

Bill Braman

Bill Braman was born and raised on his parents' fruit farm which was five miles northeast of Grand Rapids, After his father’s death in 1932, his brother Russell provided a home and a living at the family farm for he and his mother. This taught Bill something about growing fruit. In 1947, he moved to Belding, Michigan to another of his father’s orchards. This made it possible for him to get started by leasing and then ultimately buying the orchard.

With the help of nine other fruit growers, Belding Fruit Storage, which is now known as Belle Harvest sales was started in 1957. Belle Harvest is still in operation today. He contributes his success in part due to the encouragement of his brothers and family. Bill and his wife, Helen, have five children. 

The Michigan State Horticultural Society established its Trust Fund in 1985. Bill was appointed to the Committee at that time and has continually, faithfully served on this committee as Chairman for many years. With his personal fund raising approach, he has helped grow the Trust Fund over the years and has given generously of his time and personal resources. Bill gives direction in the investments of the Fund and during his years of service on the committee, it has grown to over $900,000 and the Trust has given over $800,000 to research. 

Family and community service is of the utmost importance to him. In 2004, Bill contributed $10,000 to the MSHS Trust Fund in memory of his father and his two brothers. Bill says this was due because of the encouragement of both his brothers and that the fruit business provided well for him. He also serves his community in areas which include: President of the Buescher Charitable Foundation, Chairman of the Investment Committee in the Greenville Area Community Foundation, and a volunteer of the United Memorial Hospital in Greenville in the Medicaid/Medicare Assistance Program. 

Bill has served 21 years as a member of the Trust Committee of the Michigan State Horticultural Society. He said, “It is a wonderful experience to work with the many committee members as well as to maintain the acquaintances of so many fine fruit growers and their families.” 

The Michigan State Horticultural Society is please to present the Distinguished Service Award to Bill Braman for his many years of dedication to our Industry and to the Trust Committee.