Peck and Bushel Fruit Company in Colgate doesn't just offer an organic alternative to your favorite apple varieties. Wisconsin's only organic apple orchard also offers a return to the old-fashioned fruit-picking experience. That is, they're focused more on making their apples taste delicious, and less on frills like bouncy houses and pony rides.
After experimenting in his own backyard with organic growing methods for over 20 years, Joe Fahey and his wife Jennifer purchased over 70 acres of sun-kissed land with views of Holy Hill in 2009. They've been nurturing it the earth-friendly way ever since.
They use no synthetically manufactured chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers. Instead, they use plants like crabapple trees to attract bees to do their bidding. They use a trellis system, similar to a vineyard, that enhances air flow and allows more sun to get in. They use a clay and kale based spray that acts as a bug irritant and sunscreen. And they grow apples that are meant to be grown in the Midwest.
To complement Joe's natural growing methods, his wife Jennifer packages it all up to reflect the farm-country atmosphere of their land. Everything from the rustic wooden signs in the orchard to the red and white checkered covers on their jars of applesauce is a testimony to her knack for marketing.
The result of their efforts is an orchard filled with 6,000 dwarf apple trees, boasting 800-foot rows of luscious red Honeycrisp apples and yellow Blondies with a sweet banana-like flavor. Of course, some varieties didn't turn out so well this year, like the stubborn McIntosh crop.
But Fahey doesn't seem bothered by the challenges that come with trying to accomplish what some believe is impossible, or at least too difficult to try. With his orchard in its infancy, he seems to enjoy perfecting the growing process and studying the science behind his labor. He's looking forward to a 4,000-tree expansion for next year's growing season.
And the steady stream of customers from the surrounding area suggest it's a good bet.
If you'd like to plan a visit, they are open on the weekends only. You can buy their pre-picked apples, applesauce, caramel apples, and other homemade products at their drive-by stand.
For the pick-your-own experience, call mid-week to see what's on tap for the upcoming weekend.
If you want to find out more about this innovative fruit farm, check our their website at peckandbushel.com.
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