Taking Root

Growth is slow but steady for family-owned, Michigan-centric The Granola Tree
Photograph by Erin Marie Miller

Big things are happening for the little company The Granola Tree, but the owners are staying committed to their roots.

“Our main focus is sticking with supporting Michigan,” says Lisa Lamb, who is one-third of the Brighton-based business that offers a wide assortment of gourmet peanut butters, jams, granolas, and oatmeal. “We’re very invested in our state, and in supporting other small Michigan businesses.”

Their dedication is a family affair: Lamb runs the business with her mother, Christine Cross, and her sister, Sarah Cross. Lamb and her sister grew up eating the same products they make today; their mother took it one step further in 2010 when she started selling all-natural, organic granolas at the Brighton Farmers Market. Then the sisters got involved, and things evolved from there.

Part of that evolution is the addition of gluten-free products, spurred by Lamb’s daughter, Maggie Rose, who began to exhibit the signs of celiac disease when she was born (Lamb’s husband also has celiac disease).

Today, the majority of their products are gluten-free, vegan, and locally sourced. They also contain no artificial sweeteners and are made from sustainable ingredients.

“Local” is a key ingredient in every aspect of The Granola Tree, and if it isn’t available locally, sourcing “stays in the United States — even our coconut [is] Florida coconut,” Lamb says.

Lamb says that when they were starting out, the company offered just 10 flavors of peanut butter. They now rotate seasonally through 65 flavors, and also offer sunflower butter and almond butter. Some of their most popular flavors include Spicy Mexican and Spicy Sesame.

They also offer a line of handmade jams, including Mulled Wine and Blackberry (Christine’s signature recipe), Pineapple Pepper, Michigan Blueberry Banana, and Michigan Apple Butter, among other seasonal flavors. Among their oatmeal offerings is Orange Spice, a symphony of comforting fall spices and oats.

However, true to their name, their specialty is unsweetened granola.

Growth has been slow and steady over the past four years, Lamb says. These days, running The Granola Tree is a full-time job.

At press time, they were planning to move into a new commercial kitchen at the Washtenaw County Food Hub after outgrowing their shared kitchen space in Howell.

Thanks to a grant from Eastern Market, they also purchased equipment that has allowed them to produce 900 cases of each of their products a day.

The Granola Tree’s goods can be found at Eastern Market every Saturday as well as at various farmers markets around the region, including the Westside Ann Arbor Farmers Market; at the Heart of Michigan store in Howell as well as several smaller retailers and specialty shops; and online at thegranolatree.com.

But they’re not stopping there.

“We are hoping to be picked up by larger retailers that value the integrity of our small-batch, hand-blended, locally sourced products,” Lamb says.