I had such an amazing time on our field trip to Fifer’s Orchard. It was so interesting to see some behind the scene’s of such a big operation. I have been to other orchards for apple picking and such that seemed similar to Fifer’s, but I have never experienced more than just the fruit picking and “fall fest” activities that have been offered.
There was so many interesting things that I learned on our trip, some of them specific to Fifer’s orchard and others about agriculture in general. The thing that stuck out to me the most was how a $14 million operation from 2800 acres relies mainly on hand harvesting. Every crop besides the sweet corn and wheat is hand picked. That amazes me that every crop is picked by someone, when I thought it was mainly by technology. It was fascinating to hear about the program that brought employees up from Mexico on a working visa to give them the work that they are willing to do, and is obviously so crucial to Fifer’s. Another interesting thing for me was seeing the cold crop trial; all the kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. I eat kale and broccoli on a regular basis and seeing them in the field growing (picture attached) and learning that the kale will keep growing and growing even after being harvested while the broccoli gets cut and doesn’t grow back again. Then, I was able to purchase the biggest head of broccoli I have ever seen, and a bundle of kale after seeing where it was grown not too long ago. (Also I had the broccoli tonight for dinner and it was delicious). The last thing that really amazed me was the information on the apple orchard. I had no idea that there were over 20 types of apples there, and how even though the holes for the apple trees are created by a machine, that even those are still hand planted. Lastly, Mr. Fifer explained how when he was a child they planted red delicious apple trees and 35 years later those trees are still producing fruit!
This was not only an educational field trip, but it was also very fun and interesting and I was able to bring home a lot of goodies from the store. I also am going to look into the CSA club because that is a great way to get fresh produce while supporting such a great business!