Since announcing the project, the Leelanau Conservancy has been the grateful recipient of many emails and phone calls from people remembering Sonny and the farm. The following letter (and photos) from Carol Benner are representative of the sentiments people have shared.
“I have intended for some time to contribute to the Conservancy, but your intention to preserve the Sonny Swanson Farm has prodded me into action.
We have vacationed in the Glen Arbor area with our family for more than 30 years. For the years our children were growing up, trips to the “vegetable man” for corn, tomatoes, and other delicious additions to our table were a highlight. They always marveled at his “honor system” and always liked to poke the money in the box. We were always excited when there was a bucket of fresh gladiolas for it was one of the few times I could afford them.
Then, when my grandchildren came along, we still made many trips to the stand for vegetables. In fact, my oldest grandson went to his very first pumpkin patch at Sonny’s roadside display, where pumpkins were all of 50 cents or 25 cents.
It’s funny, but sometimes you don’t miss something until it’s gone. The year the stand closed was a sad one for us. Although we didn’t personally know Sonny and he never knew what part he played in our lives, his stand was meaningful to us in a special way we can’t really explain. We hope the Conservancy can raise the money to buy and preserve his property. Thus our contribution.
The tranquility of Leelanau needs to be preserved—so we don’t have to miss it when it’s gone.
Carol Benner, Somerset, NJ
PS We have enjoyed fishing from the floating dock on the DeYoung property.