Detroit’s only cider mill and the and potentially the sole black-owned one in the US could have to shut down due to the owner’s legal battle with city officials. 

Leandra King, recognized for her entrepreneurial spirit, may face jail time because she’s refusing to give up her animals. Her story has inspired many through the years but King’s reputation could be tarnished because of the latest legal battle. 

The American Dream Comes True

Leandra King spent a lot of time while she was younger in foster care and detention centers. 

Source: Facebook/Detroit Farm and Cider’s

Her entrepreneurial acumen eventually shined through. King started flipping houses and eventually, she grew a kitchen garden in her backyard. That venture inspired the opening of Detroit Farm & Cider – the sole cider mill in the city and the only black-owned business of this kind in the US. 

King Facing Criminal Charges

Now, King faces criminal charges for owning livestock without having the necessary permit. This development, however, doesn’t come without its history. 

Source: Instagram/Leandra King’s

King told media that she’d contacted authorities multiple times, attempting to obtain all of the certificates needed to run her business. She tried to get in touch with zoning authorities but all the effort was in vain. Because of these circumstances, King’s business is temporarily closed and the city wouldn’t let her resume operations and it wouldn’t consider rezoning. 

The Mill Owner Is Committed to Fighting Detroit Authorities

Depending on the outcome of legal proceedings, King could be sentenced to two years of probation and a fine of 500 dollars. King, however, has said she intends to deny both because they will lead to her business being closed. 

Source: X/@VAASL

Because of that choice, King faces actual jail time. When asked why she’s so keen on fighting, King said that “this [the business] is what saved my life. This is what stopped me from going down dark paths.” 

Detroit City Fights Back

A member of Detroit Corporation Counsel has also used the opportunity to talk to the media and share the authority’s point of view. 

Source: Wikimedia/Robert Thompson

According to that rep, City of Detroit legal stipulations and regulations apply to everyone. The fact that someone is well-intentioned doesn’t free them from legal obligations, reports state. 

A Small Farm on an Urban Property

According to the Detroit Corporation Counsel member, this isn’t the first time that the city is having issues with King. 

Source: Wikimedia/Ken Lund

Previously, municipal authorities have had to remove goats, horses, and other animals from King’s property. According to the counsel member, that represent a violation of the rights neighbors in that area have to peaceful living. 

No Information about Complaints

While the city’s motivation is easy to understand, lots of questions about the situation remain unanswered. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Media reached out and asked for a clarification about any neighbors complaining about the mill and the animals on the property. City officials haven’t provided such details by the time of this publication. 

Detroit Farm and Cider: A Thriving Business

There’s a reason why King intends to fight for her business and it certainly extends beyond the personal. 

Source: Facebook/Detroit Farm and Cider’s

To start the business, King planted 130 fruit trees. They gave her the resource needed to open Detroit Farm and Cider. The business venture proved to be very successful – at the height of its popularity, the mill had anywhere between 600 and 800 visitors per day. 

Humble Beginnings Back in 2020

Detroit Farm and Cider welcomed its first visitor back in 2020. At the time, King had already started growing her own apples, apricots, plums, and peaches. 

Source: Facebook/Detroit Farm and Cider’s

Back then, King said that the venture was inspired by her passion for easy access to fresh food. King told media she was shocked by the community’s difficulties in obtaining locally-grown fruits and vegetables. 

A Social Media Campaign to Help Leandra Out

Many members of the local community have been outraged by the city’s decision to press criminal charges. An IStandWithFarmerLee campaign has been launched. 

Source: Instagram

BLM Detroit organized a protest for April 8, the day when a court hearing was scheduled to take place. Previously, a campaign was organized to target Detroit Criminal Enforcement and Quality of Life Dept. Douglas Baker. 

Lots of Positive Reviews

Most media accounts that one can get a hold of online paint a very positive picture of Detroit Farm and Cider. 

Source: Flockler

The mill has a 4.5-star rating on Google. People call it a lovely place to spend quality family time and get closer to nature. The quality of King’s products has also been praised in multiple reviews. 

A Family Affair

Leandra King has used the opportunity to bond to her children through care for the farm and the orchard. Detroit Farm and Cider has also become a favorite spot for many other kids interested in nature and animals. 

Source: Facebook/Detroit Farm and Cider’s

King has three daughters, the oldest ones currently aged 10 and 11. Ever since the opening of the mill, the three King ladies have been responsible for every aspect of operation – from feeding the animals to harvesting plans and making the delicious cider. 

Not the First King Is Getting in Trouble

Media first started reporting about legal troubles back in 2021, shortly after Detroit Farm and Cider was officially opened. 

Source: Facebook/Detroit Farm and Cider’s

At the time, one of King’s horses escaped from the farm and the episode necessitated police involvement. According to King, Onyx (the horse that escaped) was new to the farm and slipped through a fence. That situation, however, alerted Detroit Animal Control about the farm and its operations. 

Animals Essentials to King’s Operations

Leandra King has been interviewed several times since media got a hold of the legal troubles she’s experiencing. 

Source: Facebook/Detroit Farm and Cider’s

Asked if she we were willing to get rid of the animals, King responded that would be impossible. The livestock plays an important role in keeping the find operational. Thus, getting rid of the animals would essentially mean that Detroit Farm and Cider will have to shut down permanently. 

Cider Production in the US

Michigan is one of the states having the biggest number of cider mills in the US. A few years ago, their number was 87. 

Source: Flickr/Bill Walsh

As of today, New York is the state that leads the chart with over 95 cider mills operating on its territory.