Gallagher Centennial Farm
5891 N. Long Lake Rd.
Traverse City, MI 49685
Farmers: Doug, Joanne, Anthony, Katie, and grandson, Bill.
Products: Beef and pork, brats, sausages, hams. Meat and fruit pies. Sweet corn and cherries, and other fruits and vegetables.
Herd: 50 angus cows and calves. 25 angus steers, 25 holstein steers. 60-70 pigs.
Favorite Equipment: Our 4-Wheeler and our Discbine mower.
Favorite Recipe: Joanne's famous beef brisket.
Why do you love farming? It's a good way of life to raise our family. We're working outside and together. It's hard work, but we're raising good food for our neighbors and ourselves. It's a healthy life. We don't know any better!
What's challenging about farming? All of the expenses that go into it. The land, the taxes, and the fuel. Also, all of the amount of time it takes to get things done! Something that's also challenging is educating people about our products. People sometimes don't realize that there is a difference in the products they buy, and the reasons that sometimes prices are higher. Our animals are all born and raised on the farm. There is a difference. We're doing things differently for our customers. Little by little, people are learning.
What are you proud of about your farm? We're most proud of the family that we raised. Also, that we're able to do this as a family and we still get along! We're proud that we have customers who tell us that they couldn't eat regular bacon, but they can eat ours!
Future Plans: Growing the business. We'd like to be able to supply more restaurants and grocers, and we'd like to sell more quarters and halves to individuals. People aren't used to doing that anymore, but it's more economical. We'd also like to see area meat markets offer a section with local natural meats. We think people would like a choice and know where their meat comes from.
There’s Nothing Better
By Janice Benson, Taste the Local Difference
The Gallagher family's farm was founded in 1905.
Driving west along Long Lake Road in Traverse City, the hills roll in fields of corn, stands of cherry trees, and distant, grazing cattle. If you slow down and take it all in, you’ll spot a family farm steeped in history and possibility. You’ll see Doug Gallagher and his family hard at work there, following the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who settled there from Ireland more than 100 years ago.
And you’ll discover one of our region’s great family farms—one that even got the attention of a President!
In 1968, Doug Gallagher began managing the dairy farm that his grandfather, John Gallagher, established in 1905. One of 10 children, he started milking cows when he was just 13. He always knew that farming was his calling. Except for two long weeks when he tried working someplace else, he’s been busy at work on the family farm.
For 50 years, he’s risen at the crack of dawn almost every day, working long hours, tending to his herd and farm. He can’t imagine wanting to do anything else.
In his early years, he sold his milk to dairy distributors and from 1977 until 1984 he bottled it right on the farm. Big families came to buy the milk, and he built a good local following. But, eventually, pricing and other issues made it difficult to continue.
“We were ahead of our time,” he says. “Today the demand would be much better, as people are more aware of what they’re eating and drinking than they were back then.”
Now he sells his milk to Dean Foods—over one million pounds each year.
Doug’s wife, Joanne, also has deep roots in farming. She grew up on the Old Mission Peninsula, where her father managed the Underwood Cherry Farm. She remembers life there with her parents and grandparents.
“I loved riding the tractors and doing field work,” she recalls. “I’ve always preferred being outside, doing what I’ve always done. There’s nothing better than being outside in the fresh air.”
Passion Makes a Difference
Many of the Gallagher children now share their passion. Their youngest son, Anthony, works closely with his parents and, six years ago, he decided to do that full-time. Grandson Bill also works full-time alongside his grandfather. With more helping hands, the family expanded their business, started raising Black Angus beef and pork, and opened up a new market right on the farm.
Anthony’s wife, Katie, joined the business, too; today they all work together in this new venture. Joanne and Katie manage the farm store, where they sell their meat and other local products, and they also make the store’s “take and bake” meat and fruit pies.
Right from the start, the Gallaghers committed to raising high-quality livestock without antibiotics or hormones, with plenty of land to graze on.
“The taste is so tender and flavorful. There really is a difference,” notes Katie. “We have customers that come here because they can see where their food comes from, they can see the pastures, and how the animals are raised.”
Their meat is available at the Elberta, Frankfort, Traverse City, Elk Rapids and Glen Arbor farmers markets. They also sell to the Children's House Montessori School, Trattoria Stella, Cherry Capital Foods, Crystal Mountain Resort, Chimney Corners Resort, Oleson's Food Store East and West, Chimoski Bakery in Suttons Bay. And they sell individually packaged quarters, halves, and whole beef and pork to individuals.
President Ford encounters the Gallagher cows!
The Gallaghers have one special claim to fame that sets them apart from all others.
In July of 1975 President Gerald Ford was in Traverse City to ride in the National Cherry Festival Parade. Afterwards, he visited Senator Robert P. Griffin’s home in the Long Lake area to greet more than 150 people.
Doug saw the Presidential motorcade driving west, along Long Lake Road, right past his farm. That was quite a thrill. He watched from the side of the road as the Secret Service escorted the President down the road.
As they drove away, he thought of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “I realized that they might be coming back the same way,” Doug recalls with a grin, “so I decided to let my herd of cows out onto the road!”
Sure enough, a couple of hours later along came the motorcade, headed right toward his herd of cows, standing in the middle of the road. The motorcade slowed to a halt, forcing the Secret Service to wait until the cows passed.
Doug remembers seeing First Lady Betty Ford smiling from their limo at the unexpected traffic jam. Though he didn’t officially meet the President and First Lady, he definitely made an impression!
Years later a friend sent them an article from Newsweek listing the only two times in American history when a presidential motorcade was unexpectedly stopped: Once, at the scene of a traffic accident, and once, when a herd of cattle crossed the road on a July day in northern Michigan.
Doug smiles proudly at that very special family memory!