Center for Rural Culture
Apples and Peaches and Pears—OH MY!
By Katie Hoffman
A New Producer Spotlight Shines on Holly and Don Smith of Owl Orchard in Powhatan
Holly and Don Smith of Owl Orchard have been members of Fall Line Farms and Local Roots since its inception, so they know what it takes to please their fellow members. The name of their business, Owl Orchard, may even seem a bit familiar, as our friends at Manakintowne Specialty Growers have sometimes featured their fruit on our pages. But now the Smiths have joined us as full-fledged producers, and we can’t wait to taste what they’re bringing on board!
This week, Owl Orchard offers a bounty of fresh, juicy no-spray blueberries from their local patch of over 200 bushes. (Click here to go to their page and buy blueberries!) Over the course of the coming year, they will also offer a variety of different fruits from their 400 fruit trees, 50 nut trees, 100 grapevines and 200 blueberry bushes.
“We're best known for our peaches,” says Holly. “Don planted them 8 years ago. When he sells them at farmers markets, people can’t believe that they’re from right here in Powhatan!” The Smiths’ semi-dwarf trees begin bearing in late June and will keep going into the early fall.
“We have over 20 varieties of peaches,” Holly adds, “both yellow and white. They are delicious!” Members can expect to see them on our pages as soon as they are ready for harvest.
Late summer and early fall will bring apples—lots of apples—in a number of heirloom varieties. Holly notes that Owl Orchard will be able to supply apples into the winter, as they have a refrigerator in their barn for storing. “Some apples even benefit from storage and sweeten,” she notes, “like the Arkansas Blacks. We’ll be able to offer those varieties late into the season.”
Arkansas Blacks get their name from their peels, which are such a dark red they’re almost black. Their sugars concentrate in storage, which means they are even better after they have been allowed to rest a while. Each heirloom variety has its own personality, taste, and use, and we'll have a chance to get to know them, thanks to Don's hard work in the trees!
Along with the apples, Owl Orchard raises Asian pears. They're delectable, but that deliciousness comes with quite a bit of care. Don has to give them individual attention to help them bear. “The hornets are a real problem," Holly says. "They bore into the fruit and hollow it out until there’s nothing but a shell left. Don has to go out and put a sandwich bag over each developing pear to keep the hornets out. It’s a lot of work, but the pears are massive and wonderfully sweet.”
Holly and Don have been steadfast members of Fall Line Farms and Local Roots since its inception, enjoying the convenience and—of course—the fresh local produce we offer all year long. We’re proud that they have now become part of our producer cooperative. And we can’t wait to taste what they are bringing to our online market, beginning with this week’s offerings from the blueberry patch!