Business

The only Black-owned cider mill in U.S. could soon be forced to close its doors due to a legal battle

Leandra King owns almost five acres of land for Detroit Farm & Cider, known for its cider milling and raising animals. King’s upbringing was difficult as she spent time in foster homes and juvenile detention centers. 

She later flipped houses and did other jobs before realizing that nature is where she belongs. So she started a small kitchen garden in her backyard before eventually opening the Detroit Farm & Cider. She became the founder of Detroit’s only cider mill and the only Black-owned cider mill in the United States.

Now, Detroit Farm & Cider is at risk of permanent closure due to a legal battle, according to WXYZ. King is likely to face jail time for refusing to give up her animals in response to Detroit officials’ demands.

It comes on the heels of criminal charges filed against her for owning livestock without proper permits. She had faced challenges in obtaining official certification to conduct her business. She recalled how she attempted to contact the zoning authority, but her attempts were unsuccessful. Her business is currently temporarily closed as the city won’t rezone her property or allow her to reopen.

She said the city has not given a justification for its refusal to rezone her property.

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

King may be sentenced to two years probation, a $500 fine, or 90 days in jail if convicted. She intends to deny probation and fines as these could effectively close her business permanently. Thus, she is ready to leave her children behind for jail.

WXYZ asked why she was bent on fighting. “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.” 

Meanwhile, a member of the Detroit Corporation Counsel reacted to the matter, saying the City of Detroit ordinances cannot be ignored because the person violating the ordinance is well-intentioned.

“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 are a possibility. We are protecting all of our citizens, and we are disregarding no one’s rights,” Conrad Mallet of the Counsel said.

Abu Mubarik

Abu Mubarik is a journalist with years of experience in digital media. He loves football and tennis.

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