Apple-Licious Orchard was started with a childhood memory of sitting in an apple tree next door to where the orchard resides today. This particular apple tree is a variety called Fireside. This Fireside is a full size standard tree and is currently over 55 years old today. The Fireside apple tree brought back many memories like mom baking eight pies at a time and sitting in the tree eating apples until we got sick. Spending time with dad and our local farmer maintaining the tree, and watching the joy apples brought to others during the harvest. Of course don’t let me forget about picking these apples up off the ground before mowing.
Then one day the trials of life were burdening my mind, thinking what is life about? I started thinking about punching a clock and paying bills just was not enough for me. As I sat in my home in town watching television with all my free time, I had a thought there has to be more to life. Then I had another memory of growing up in the country and that was raising rabbits, riding on motorized toys, and selling sweet corn from our home. So the idea came to me why not work to leave a legacy behind.
With just under nine acres of land sitting in the country with under a dozen young fruit trees on it I persuaded my son and daughter that living in the country and building a legacy would be a great thing. So I spent a year with research and took a grafting class through the U-W extension office. Talking with my grafting instructor Tony, I was instructed to start building an orchard by grafting 20 to 100 trees to see how it goes. So of course I followed his instructions and started with a thousand tree nursery spring of 2013, with a 97% grafting success rate we went all in with my dream to leave a legacy behind. 2014 we started a 1,200 tree nursery with a 95% grafting success rate.
During the journey over the next few years the orchard had seen some trials along the way. A farmer friend of mine commented to me one day. Part time farmer full time headaches!!! As he laughed at me for dropping a boulder on my 4 hour old tractors hood. High winds one day shredded a portable storage structure, this happened twice. Other days we have dealt with high winds causing us to get out and re-tie trees and picking up the ones that broke off. The final nursery bed spring of 2017 with 1,400 trees only had a 46% grafting take due to weather related issues. Roughly 700 trees from this nursery were re-grafted and will be replanted this spring 2018. Although we have had some trials, we won’t be discouraged as there is light at the end of the tunnel after we fix broken equipment, cut down on insects, rodents, and foolish mistakes.
In 2017 Apple-Licious Orchard formed an LLC and headed into the first year of production. The spring started with frost so production numbers were low. The orchard was still viable enough to start meeting its customers at local farmers markets and being open at the orchard on Saturdays.
Currently, heading into spring of 2018 Apple-Licious Orchard has two thousand trees fielded with hopes of sizeable production. With a current nursery bed of now 1,300 more trees the orchard is heading toward a trellis condensed vertical growing system. With my age increasing and the legacy just starting to begin I had purchased a few registered apple varieties to get this orchard moving forward, with many varsities the Howard area has not seen. Apple-Licious Orchard currently has about 18 apple varsities and about 35 Bartlett Pear trees, along with a few cherries, plums, peaches, and apricots.
Apple-Licious orchard Mission statement:
To supply and produce quality healthy products for the community, grow with the community supporting family values while honoring God.