Joan Donaldson

Correspondent

Joan Donaldson’s latest novel, On Viney’s Mountain represented the State of Tennessee at the 2010 National Book Festival.  The Christian Science Monitor and Mary Jane’s Farm have published her nonfiction. Her book about her family’s organic fruit farm, Wedded to the Land will be released in 2013.

Her farm’s website is: http://www.pleasanthillblueberryfarm.com

Her author website is: http://www.joandonaldson.com

The hedge rows on Pleasant Hill Farm
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

Sometimes when driving the back roads of Southwest Michigan, you still see lines of trees or bushes dividing the fields or marching along the borders. Years ago, farmers planted hedge rows not just to mark the boundaries of their land, but also as wind breaks to protect their crops. It was also a shady place to pause when plowing with a team of horses. 

Ann Sharkey inspects her hive on WMUK correspondent Joan Donaldson's organic fruit farm
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

Despite the media’s out-pouring of articles about “colony collapse disorder” and about how pesticides are killing off bees, visitors to my organic blueberry farm often have not connected the dots between bees and fruit. 

Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

The grinder whirs as it slashes apples into pomace, and the chopped apples fall into a nylon mesh bag that lines the barrel of our small cider press. I drop more fruit into the hopper and already, juice puddles on the wooden platform that holds the barrel.

Joan Donaldson

Silver barked peach trees crown many of the lakeshore’s hills. In the spring, their blossoms create a gossamer pink cloud while in the summer, their leaves droop like mustaches, hiding the ripening peaches. During the late nineteenth century, peach orchards generated thousands of dollars for Michigan farmers who sent their harvests to Chicago, Milwaukee, and beyond.

Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

The month of January frees most farmers from field work, and if the snow is deep enough, even my husband, John and I stop pruning our blueberry bushes. Some farmers plow snow for extra cash, but traditionally, others head to their woods for a winter paycheck.