By Calie Joy Herbst Special to Published Oct 05, 2013 at 11:45 AM

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.

Apparently, it's no easy feat to grow organically in Wisconsin. The humidity here leads to pests and diseases, and persistence is necessary to learn through trial and error. 

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

Calie Joy Herbst Special to
Calie Herbst is a teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools and editor of She received a Bachelors in Spanish and Sociology from UW-Madison and a Masters of Teaching Spanish from Marquette.

She has travelled extensively through the Spanish-speaking world, but her favorite place in the world is Milwaukee. She lives in Bay View with her husband, two year old son, Hudson and her two dogs. She and her family love to check out the latest events in Milwaukee and spend time at their cabin in Winter, Wis.

In her free time, her ideal self enjoys doing yoga, reading one book a week, and cooking with organic, local foods. Her real self just ends up watching terrible reality television.