cider mill, Detroit

Legal Battle Threatens Closure Of Country’s Potentially Only Black-Owned Cider Mill

Owner Leandra King is at risk of doing jail time and her business shutting down due to a legal battle with Detroit officials.

Detroit’s only cider mill is at risk of permanent closure due to a legal battle. Its owner, Leandra King, faces jail time for refusing to turn over her animals at Detroit officials’ demands. Detroit Farm & Cider also claims to be the only Black-owned cider mill in the United States.

King faces criminal charges for owning livestock without proper permits, as reported by WXYZ. She owns almost five acres of land for Detroit Farm & Cider, renowned for its cider milling and raising animals. However, she ran into trouble obtaining official certification to conduct business. After reaching out to the zoning officials, her efforts did not garner the desired results. According to the company’s Facebook page, it is temporarily closed.

Before finding her passion for farming, King experienced a troubled upbringing. Her childhood consisted of foster homes and juvenile detention centers, but King paved a better path for herself through this venture.

“I just kind of did some soul searching and realized that nature is where I belong,” King said.

However, her entire livelihood remains in jeopardy as the city refuses to re-zone her property and allow her to reopen. She states that the city has not listed any reason for their refusal.

“I have no comprehension of why the city is so committed to shutting down this woman,” shared her attorney, Matthew Dupree.

If found guilty, King anticipates spending up to 90 days in jail and two years on probation. However, she intends to refute the probation and fines if convicted, risking her business’s permanent closure. She will also leave her children behind if jail time occurs. Despite this potential outcome, local Black Lives Matter organizations continue their advocacy for “Farmer Lee.”

Reporter Kiara Hay asked her why she continues the legal fight.

“Because this is what saved my life,” she responded. “This is what stopped me from going down dark paths. In my experience, when you’re doing the right thing, things work out.”

In response, a member of the Detroit Corporation Counsel reinforced their standing on the matter.

“City of Detroit ordinances cannot be ignored simply because the person violating the ordinance is well-intentioned,” said Conrad Mallet of the Counsel. “In the past, Animal Control has removed horses, goats, and other animals from the property. We are a City of roughly 650,000 people. The people who live across the street from the non-licensed property have rights. They have the right to enjoy their homes free from animal smells and noise. Continual violation of our ordinances ultimately will create a consequence where fines and jail time is a possibility. We are protecting all of our citizens, and we are disregarding no one’s rights.”

However, the Counsel refused to answer whether or not Detroit Farm and Cider had any complaints made against them. In the meantime, King sacrifices her wellness for her passion’s sake.