Funded! This project was successfully funded on April 20, 2012.

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We're known as the "Cherry Capital of the World." So who is sneaking into our orchards at night and sawing down trees? And why?

No one saw anything and no one heard anything but when the sun rose over Legacy Orchards on that October morning, the trunks of more than 400 cherry trees had been sawed through, and every single one of the once healthy trees cruelly pushed over.

Now, five months later, more orchards and vineyards in my hometown have been vandalized too, but police are no closer to learning who did this, or why.

I'm a journalist specializing in true crime; this strange and violent assault on the land and the livelihood of the people who farm it happened right in my own backyard. I want to find out why, then write an in-depth piece of long-form journalism available as a Kindle Single or a Lulu printed work detailing the mystery against the backdrop of what cherry farming still means to this region.

I plan to interview area cherry growers, the police and the sheriff in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties, read through police reports and spend time getting to know the active cherry farming culture here. A tight-knit group that has existed unchanged in the area for generations, yet still manages to keep itself separate from the tourist resorts and flashy festivals Traverse City is best known for.

I'll research all the acts of reported and potentially-related vandalism in the surrounding area in the past five years, and discuss theories of who could be responsible both on and off the record.

Good journalism takes time. I'll meet with orchard owners and workers, research the police records on the crime and interview community members. Funding will be used for transportation, lodging, Freedom of Information Act requests, copying, research, as well as some digital conversion and design and production costs.

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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    5 backers

    Have your name listed in the "Thank-You" section at the end of the story and as a backer in the author's blog at http://mardilink.typepad.com/mardis_link/.

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  • Pledge $15 or more
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    15 backers

    All of the above plus a PDF copy of this work of long-form journalism emailed to you, along with copies of the police reports.

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    14 backers

    All of the above plus the chance to experience why cherry trees are such an integral part of northern Michigan by enjoying a bag of delicious dried cherries (yum!) from one of the orchards profiled.

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    22 backers

    All of the above plus a signed copy of the printed work in numbered chapbook form.

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    3 backers

    All of the above plus a homemade cherry pie made with fruit from a northern Michigan cherry orchard over-nighted to you! Yummy beyond compare!

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Funding period

- (31 days)