By Jennifer Davis
Charlotte has a new destination worth visiting! Mi Alchemy, which includes the Carlisle Lavender farm, opened for the first time this summer and is already thriving. Located at 3418 Carlisle Hwy, the farm offers over a mile of beautiful blooms composed of nearly 1,500 plants, as well as an adorable storefront for purchasing the many products they make themselves. Collection baskets and scissors are provided for patrons to leisurely walk the fields and collect their own lavender. The store on the property is a 1980’s horse trailer which they have converted into a selling booth that can both park comfortably on the farm or be towed to farmers markets. The farm is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays while the lavender is in bloom. First bloom made its appearance this July and as long as nature cooperates, there will be a second bloom again in September. Once in bloom, the fields will offer fresh lavender for around two months at a time. The owners of Mi Alchemy are able to maintain such a long bloom time by growing six different varieties of lavender that all peak at slightly different times in the season.
Sinda and Scott Venton are the people responsible for this budding new business. After moving here in 2018, Sinda began planting flowers around her new home. She noticed that the lavender in particular flourished especially well in their soil and so she began to plant more of it. Not too long later, COVID-19 hit, and growing lavender became a passion project. Sinda struggled with how to help her dog with skin allergies when the pandemic prevented him from receiving needed allergy injections. After doing her research, she learned that her lavender may be the answer. She created a specialized dog soap (which they now sell) that helped soothe his skin so much that he no longer needed the injections. The idea of soothing soaps then expanded to a variety of soap products, as well as shampoos, lotions and bath bombs. They have also used lavender to create delicious jams and syrups. Once these ideas began to expand into a business plan, the whole family pitched in to help. Sinda and Scott both work hard on the farm, and their grown children as well as Scott’s mother, Marie, have all put time and effort into getting things ready. Sinda said, “When we were going through the pandemic, we all worked together on the farm. It was a way for us to all come together when being around each other indoors was not an option.” She went through the Lavender Growers curriculum at Michigan State University, as well as doing much of her own research, in order to help produce the best products for her business and create a beautiful, thriving farm.
Eventually, the Ventons would like to expand their business. As a large supporter of pollinators, they already own several hives and hope one day to produce lavender honey. Sinda also dreams of building a greenhouse where she can teach classes, hold yoga sessions and educate the community on both the healing and culinary aspects of lavender. She feels her family has chosen the perfect property to put down roots. “The community has been so wonderful. People have been incredibly supportive. I wish we would have done this ten years earlier,” she said. You can find more information about Mi Alchemy on their website at www.mi-alchemy.com
Whitetail Farms Farm Fresh Market, a unique, quality meat market, has seen much expansion since it opened in 2015 in Olivet. Starting as a deer processing and butcher shop, expansions have included a barbecue smokehouse, a broaster and the Whitetail Farms barbeque shack.
Owners Greg and Karen Saltzman take pride in offering a wide variety of options for their customers. “We smoke ribs and chicken daily on our Southern Pride Smoker,” said Karen Saltzman. “We stock our hot case with fresh smoked ribs and chicken from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. each day.” Be sure to stop in for lunch daily, and pick up their delicious broaster chicken.
“We are a meat market with 29 kinds of brats made in-house. We also do our own signature smoked hunter’s sticks, summer sausage and ring bologna,” said Saltzman.
Whitetail Farms features their own smoked bacon, with flavors that include hickory smoked, peppered, jalapeno, honey whiskey and apple brandy.
For DIY home cooking, Whitetail Farms Farm Fresh Market offers a full line of USDA choice beef and pork in their serviced meat case. They also carry a customized line of fresh chicken; fresh ground beef made in-house daily; along with marinated chicken breast with choices of lemon pepper, BBQ, mesquite and garlic butter.
A complement to any meal, Whitetail Farms offers fresh Amish baked goods, fresh produce, milk and dairy products and a deli. Whitetail Farms also offers local honey and local maple syrup products, as well as propane filling and a choice of Whitetail Farm’s selection of Lumber Jack grilling pellets.
Whitetail Farms offers a full range of catering options for weddings, graduation open houses, memorial services, birthdays, and any other special occasion. They feature pulled pork and beef brisket, both smoked in-house; macaroni and cheese; baked beans; and many more additional selections are available. For more information on their unique catering options, call them at 269-749-2005 Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.. to 7 p.m.
For those interested in shopping at Whitetail Farms Farm Fresh Market, their website (whitetailfarmsffm.com) has great information about what all this market has to offer. Check out their deli menu to see sandwiches, paninis, wraps, and salads. Also available is their hot case—stocked with their daily meals—and their broaster menu.
If you are active on social media, you can also follow their Facebook page that posts updates on the daily menu as well as closings. Whitetail Farms Farm Fresh Market is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed on Sunday. The building is located at 4506 West Butterfield Hwy, in Olivet, across the street from Olivet College’s Cutler Event Center.
Be sure to stop in for something to eat from their hot case or barbecue smokehouse, and treat yourself to flavors you will want to repeat over and over.
The tractors will be rolling in for the 18th Annual Bellevue Antique Tractor Show on August 13 and 14. It will be held at Washington Park in downtown Bellevue. Admission is free. Kids and adults alike will enjoy seeing the wide variety of old tractors and implements in the park.
One of the highlights of the event is the Friday and Saturday night Tractor Parades. This year it will be led by Phil Vahs, the 2021 Grand Marshal and a long-time participant of the event. The tractors will travel 10 to 12 miles around town and the trip will take about an hour.
The parade will involve twenty to thirty tractors, according to David Shumaker, one of the organizers of the event. “It’s great to be cruising the city on a tractor,” he said.
Shumaker owns 14 tractors himself and has been participating in the event for many years. This is his first time being one of the organizers, however, and his excitement is showing. “It’s a big weekend for Bellevue,” Shumaker said. “It’s a great event for the whole family.”
A wide variety of tractors are expected to attend the event, including a 1928 John Deere GP. The GP in the name stands for General Purpose. This tractor was built from 1928 to 1935 with a total production of about 36,000.
On Saturday at 10 a.m. the tractor games begin. There will be games of skill for those with tractors, such as putting a chain in a box, the slowest tractor race, dropping balls in buckets, and more.
Vendors will be open on Saturday in Washington Park. Tractor and wagon rides will be available, and there will be kids’ activities starting at 1 p.m., including a pedal pull, face painting, and more.
Two children, one boy and one girl, will be the lucky winners of a new bike if their name is drawn on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Entering the contest is easy; just drop your name in the box and a winner will be drawn. The winner must be present to win.
At noon there will be the presentation of the Grand Marshal plaque and various trophies to participants, including People’s Choice, the oldest tractor, and the tractor which was driven the farthest. Door prizes will be awarded throughout the day.
A Silent Auction will be held all day on Saturday. Money raised from the sale goes to the club to cover the expenses of the event.
The event wouldn’t happen without the help of many people, Shumaker stated. Helpers are always needed for the event.
Tractors are welcome to participate for just a day or for both days. Security will be provided both Friday and Saturday nights
For more information or to volunteer contact David Schumaker at 269-763-3457, or Darold or Carol Cheeseman at 269-758-3130.
There are many charities out there, all needing money, so it pays to get creative with fundraising. Cindy Miller, Director of the Eaton Area Senior Center, has found another creative way to build up their bank accounts. The Center is holding a Helicopter Cash Raffle on September 11, 2022, during Frontier Days.
So, what is a Helicopter Cash Raffle? The helicopter will drop three balls, each a different color, onto a grid painted on the ground at the Eaton County Fairgrounds. The first ball dropped will determine the big winner, the second drop is second place, and the square that the third ball lands in is third place. Judges will be on hand to make determinations as needed.
The grand prize is $5,000, second place wins $1,000, and third place takes home $500. Tickets are $100 each and can be purchased at the Center, located at 804 South Cochran, and at various locations throughout the Fairgrounds during Frontier Days.
Those who were part of an earlier High Roller Raffle were offered an exciting bonus: reserve your Helicopter Cash Raffle tickets early and you could be a passenger on the ball-drop helicopter. A drawing will be held from the 56 early bird ticket buyers for a very special experience.
Eye Care Associates and Sparrow Eaton Hospital are covering the costs of a helicopter from Michigan Helicopters for the event. With their help and other sponsors like Pray Funeral Home, Insty-Prints, and Frontier Days, there will be no cost to the senior citizens.
“As an annual event, this fundraiser would help keep our local Senior Center activities going for years to come,” Miller said.
COVID deeply affected the Senior Center, she explained. “COVID taught us that we are very vulnerable. We are 100% self-funded, and we need to diversify our fundraising.”
“We lost $98,000 in catering income and $30,000 in rentals in the first year of COVID. Our raffles were down, and we were closed for Bingo. We have a large loan to pay off that we had to take out to get through that time.”
“Right now, I’m trying to pull rabbits out of my hat,” Miller said, “and hope this helicopter raffle will help us financially.”
There are currently 400 members of the Center “post-COVID” Miller said. The number before the pandemic was 600. The numbers are slowly building back up, along with their activities and building rentals.
Bingo, exercise, cards, trips, lunches, bunco, family events, and more are happening at the Eaton Area Senior Center. They also operate a banquet venue, perfect for your wedding reception, open house, or any other special occasion.
Find out more information about the Helicopter Cash Raffle or about the Eaton Area Senior Center by calling (517)541-2934 or (517)588-1626 or drop in at the Center. It’s open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., and for special events.
It’s summertime, COVID-19 worries are reduced, and the festivals and events we look forward to are returning to Eaton County. The fifth annual Visit Vermontville Day will take place on August 7 in the village of Vermontville. It promises to be a fun day with lots of activities for the whole family, including a flea market, kid’s games, a farmers’ market, a pancake breakfast, musical entertainment, and more. Vermontville is jumping back into living life after the pandemic and is hosting several exciting events this summer. The Visit Vermontville Day team is busy making all the final arrangements for a lot of fun events for all ages. The team is composed of members of the community and the events are not sponsored by the Vermontville Village Council and/or their employees. The summer events kicked off with a new event; an Amish Visit Vermontville Day was held on June 26. The Vermontville Amish community offers a wide variety of businesses that many are not aware of, so this event was initiated to help everyone realize that they are there. They include bakeries, gift shops, groceries, bulk stores, cabinetry, and fencing installers, and much more. Nineteen businesses participated, and from all accounts, everyone had a great day despite the rainy weather, with many visitors, with groups of five to ten people at a time. Maps are still available at Sunset Bakery on Vermontville Highway, JoLei’s Diner in Vermontville, and the M-79 Grocery on the corner of M-79 and Ionia Road for those interested in visiting the businesses. Coming up soon are community garage sales on July 15, 16, and 17 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. To sign up for your sale visit their Facebook page #VisitVermontvilleDay, by email email@example.com, or call 517-231-5629. Due to some work being done involving gas main and water works, it may require a little extra walking, but all sales will be accessible. Visit Vermontville Day is happening on August 7. There will be a flea market, kid’s games, and lots of entertainment. There are still spots available for flea market vendors on Main Street; call or message #VisitVermontvilleDay on Facebook to get more information or call 517-231-5629. The Maple Valley Band Boosters will be serving up pancakes with pure maple syrup from 8 a.m. until noon at the Community Center. The Vermontville Town Library will be in the park with activities, including a story walk. They will be joined by the Farmers Market. Those with tractors are invited to bring them to share with the public during the event. Always a favorite, there will be a Pedal Tractor Pull for kids at noon. Even more exiting will be the bike give-away for kids ages two to fifteen. The last giveaway had 20 bikes to give to children, and the Team is hoping to repeat that again this year. They are still seeking donations of new bikes, from tricycles up to adult size. Contact the Team if you can help. Music will be provided for Visit Vermontville Day by the Voodoo DJs. There is a dancing area in front of the stage, along with benches to just sit and watch. There will be a car cruise on Saturday, September 25. It’s the second annual Classic Car Cruise and will also feature a street dance. No registration is required; just cruise in and join the party. Music at the Car Cruise will be provided by Blind Ambition.
Josiah Spooner, from Potterville, isn’t your “average” 13-year-old boy. That’s probably why the Raising Men Lawn Care Service challenge interested him. People kept sending links to the program to his mother, Karen Spooner, knowing that she wanted him to get into some kind of community service this summer and that he was the kind of young man who would take the challenge and run with it. They were right.
Josiah signed up online last summer for the Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a non-profit program founded in 2015 in Huntsville, Alabama, by Rodney Smith, Jr. The program encourages young men and women, ages 7 to 17, to mow lawns for people who need help, illustrating to them the importance of giving back to their community. The goal is to keep youth on the positive side of things, to raise men and women to be leaders in our communities through service to others.
“Sometimes youth want to help their community and people need the help, but it can be hard to know who, why, and when,” Smith said. So he created this challenge to encourage children to help their communities.
Josiah just recently fulfilled his commitment to the program and to his community. The commitment? To mow (for free) 50 lawns for the elderly, the disabled, single parents, and veterans; people who don’t have the time, the resources, and/or the money to take care of their yards. By completing the challenge, Josiah will receive a new lawn mower, a weed eater, and a blower, AND a visit from Mr. Smith.
For every ten lawns he mowed, he received a different color of T-shirt, the color signifying his progress. There are currently almost 3,800 children who have accepted the 50 Yard Challenge, including children in eight countries around the world.
“I’m just one of those people that enjoys helping people, helping my neighbors,” he explained. He is in 8th grade in home school and plans to go into the ministry in the future. In his free time, he enjoys creating with Legos.
Josiah’s five siblings have always done community service projects. “When they hit their teens, they tend to get a little self-centered if you don’t do something to keep them in check,” his mother explained.
Of course, a lot of the responsibility falls on her, too. She is the one who posts on Facebook to find people who need their lawns mowed, transports Josiah to the lawns, buys the gas for the mower, and photographs his work before, during, and afterward as proof for the program. Her commitment to her son’s success was strong.
In 2021, Josiah mowed a lot of lawns in his own neighborhood, and this year Josiah focused on lawns in Independence Commons, a manufactured housing community in Potterville. He often helped with landscaping and gardening, too.
For more information about the program visit weareraisingmen.com.
Two time-capsules-in-one were found recently by construction workers in the courtyard at the Eaton Rapids High School. Workers found a large steel box, measuring 16” x 16”, that had been placed there in the late 1970s.
Inside the first box, which was in good condition despite being underground for 50 years, were numerous things from 1977: Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Welch’s Grape Soda cans (empty), a Montgomery Wards catalog, the State Journal, a Seed Catalog, a flag, the Flashes, cookies (well, cookie crumbs, actually), books and bibles, a TV Guide, an Ingham County Newspaper, a few local postcards, salt and pepper packets, and several religious books. There were a few photocopied items from the 1928 ERHS yearbook and a reprint of the 1886 ERHS school newspaper.
The big bonus was that it also included things from the class of 1928, according to a slip of paper which was placed at the top of the box. Underneath the 1977 artifacts was another stainless-steel box, well-sealed from any moisture, about the size of a shoebox.
“I shook it, and it sounded like crayons,” said ERPS Superintendent Bill DeFrance about the smaller stainless-steel sealed box before it was opened.
Sealed tight with caulk, the smaller box was opened. The contents included more items from the late 1970s and several items that really didn’t seem to have a local connection, such as a menu from the Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington DC. Four unbranded cigars. A small bottle of whiskey. A warning on an envelope: “Not to be sold or I’ll come back to haunt you.”
“That sounds like something my dad would say,” said Dennis Letts, the youngest son of C. Paul Letts. A little historical sleuthing resulted in a connection to Paul and David Letts with the box. David was a 1928 graduate of Eaton Rapids, and Paul graduated in 1929. Dennis remembers hearing that they placed the box there at one of their class reunions, along with their good friend, Frank Naylor. They all played football together, Dennis explained. David was in the Navy in Washington, DC.
Coins from around the world were in the box, along with a $2 bill. A yellowed 1918 Portland Maine newspaper with WWI headlines was in excellent condition. A sermon on a cassette tape from an East Lansing church was included, the latest technology at the time. Various personal items were in the box, including several photos of Lt. David Letts in the Navy and one of the 1928 ERHS track team with names written on the back, including Coach “Sindy” Sindecuse, ERHS class of 1923.
A receipt for the purchase of the two watertight sheet metal boxes was included, $72.47 in 1974 dollars.
The item of the most historical interest was a photo album of the class of 1928. There were forty-eight members of the class, and David Letts had collected forty-four photos for his album. Below some of the photos the word “died” was written and some had an obituary tucked in behind the photo.
Cornelius Paul Letts (1911-2003) was a teacher and the principal at King Street School for 22 years, retiring in 1975. Letts was also a life-long Boy Scout and was the first person in Eaton Rapids to become an Eagle Scout. Later he earned the Silver Beaver Award, which honored his years as a leader and advisor to the Boy Scouts. He was known for his “Dutch rubs” on misbehaving students.
David Letts (1909-1983) started working at the ice cream factory after his graduation. By 1936 he left Eaton Rapids and was working for Detroit Edison. He graduated from the Detroit Institute of Technology in Engineering in 1941. David enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and became a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the Bureau of Ships until 1948. In 1948 he moved from Washington DC to Lansing and joined the Naval Reserves, retiring from that in 1969. He purchased Winkler Heating and Air Conditioning in 1948. In 1958 he purchased Guardian Oil Corporation with partners.
“Whether we’re aware of a little or a lot, we all learn interesting things we were unaware of before,” said Dennis Letts. “Every town has its history and it’s nice having people who explore it and share what they learn.”
If you have some local history you would like to share, contact us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the County Journal office at 517-543-1099.