Rich, black loam, a legacy of the prairies across southern Michigan and northern Indiana, came to be known in the region as ronde. The term— French for round or circular—may derive from Prairie Ronde, which at several thousand acres is the largest of eight prairies in Kalamazoo County, in the southwestern corner of Michigan. (French Canadian trappers bestowed similar names on places as far west as the Grande Ronde Valley of Oregon.) In plowed fields, the prairie soils often appear as dark disks, in contrast with the surrounding lighter soils, and these circular shapes may also help account for their being called rondes.

Scott Michael Saunders