The Long Family Orchard, Farm and Cider Mill in Commerce Township has been recognized by the Michigan Barn Preservation Network (MBPN) as having the 2011 Michigan Barn of the Year among commercially-used barns.
“I’m really pleased and grateful that MBPN chose our barn and recognized all our work,” said Rob Long, a fifth generation farmer and also a member of the Commerce Township Board of Trustees, who operates the farm with his wife, Oakland County Commissioner Christine Long (R-Commerce, Milford, Wolverine Lake).
The MBPN annually gives out awards in four different categories — continuing family/private agricultural use; family/private adaptive use; non-profit agricultural or adaptive use; commercial agricultural or adaptive use — to promote the appreciation, preservation and rehabilitation of Michigan heritage barns which date back before 1957.
In order to be considered for an award, applicants must provide the history of the barn and all the work that has been done to preserve it, along with photo documentation of the work.
A lot of improvements have been done since the Long Barn was built during the 1850s to store hay to feed the cows on the family’s dairy farm.
One of the major renovations included turning the barn into a refrigerated storage space for apples in 1959.
Then after Long planted the current apple orchard in 1990, he remodeled the storage cooler and added a cider mill, donut kitchen, and apple sales area in 1995, while keeping up the barn’s aesthetics to preserve if for future use and enjoyment.
“You try to take an obsolete building from the times of horses and cows and make it practical,” Long said. “When we decided we were going into apple picking and going to have a cider mill, we decided (the barn) was the perfect place to put it. It’s taken a long time, but we are really proud of the barn and how it came out.”