I was sad to not be able to attend the field trip to Fifer’s Orchard because I do not have much knowledge on how businesses like this runs. I do not have much knowledge on how Orchards run. Fifer’s Orchard seemed to be very well diverse with growing a wide variety of of fruits and vegetables, but then also selling CSA shares and farmers market stands. I was surprised to see that for Fifer’s CSA shares actually do better than farmers market stands. However, it was good to see that Fifer’s is trying to connect to the consumer which ultimately is better for business and good for the general outlook of todays agriculture.
I was not very surprised to see that they spray their vegetable crops once a week. Beside insect pests, in this humid climate disease is quite an issue for producers because disease loves humid moist weather. Also with the technology of high tunnels it allows Fifer’s to control disease that way as well. Overall between the diversity of crops grown but also the different marketing techniques, Fifer’s Orchard seems to be the perfect example of a diverse agricultural business who advocates to the community.
Last Saturday, I took a trip to Fifers Orchard. I was thoroughly impressed at the size of their production. I had been previously under the impression that Fifers was a small little produce stand with only a couple acres of land. I very much enjoyed seeing the different types of crops they grew and I was very surprised to learn that their were many different types of one specific crop, such as orange, green, and purple cauliflower. Being able to look at the type of distribution center, I was so excited to see how things worked within the company. Speaking to the family members was also extremely interesting because I never realized how important it was that each person had their own specific job and made sure that their job was completed with great competence. I was also interested in the idea that you were able to buy not only fruits and vegetables, but other types of homemade products such as jams, pies, and seasonings. Seeing this type of production system was extremely important to my understanding about how family farms are run and to see them work cohesively and produce the best products for their consumers.
I live in Delaware and I have been to Fifer Orchards many times, but on the field trip I learned so much more about their business. The Fifers till 2800 acres; sweet corn, strawberries, and tomatoes being their biggest money makers. They grow a huge variety of crops in alternating seasons which is rare for a Delaware farmers market. I was shocked to learn how far they ship their produce and that they have contracts with major companies such as Walmart. I also enjoyed learning how they run their CSA program; I work at a smaller produce market and we ran our system differently, but Fifers incorporated promotion of their market in the weekly boxes, and had a variety of different boxes to choose from. It was very interesting to see that they also had acres for testing new crops. They grew all different varieties of cauliflower and kale by customer request, and understood very well how the trends were moving, and as a result changed the varieties they grow to the ones gaining more popularity. The tour of the farm really showed why Fifer Orchards was such an success and what makes it stands out from other Delaware farmers markets.
Unfortunately due to obligations at work I was not able to make it to this week’s field trip. However, after reading a few of my fellow students’ posts I understand that Fifer’s Orchards is a CSA. This peaks my interest as I have a somewhat mixed idea of what exactly a CSA is. In this case the Fifer family business sends out monthly/weekly boxes full of fruit and other produce grown by in the orchard and in turn the community pays for this and the orchard is supported for the most part. In other scenarios a CSA is simply a community garden maintained by the community in areas where fresh produce is a scarcity and not within economical means. Thirdly in rural areas (more specifically Madison County, VA) the community owns a plot of arable land and a farmer is brought in to work that land for the community.
In my opinion, no matter what form its in, a CSA is a good thing. Both the community and the farmer is benefiting almost regardless. In all three scenarios the community is receiving fresh produce that is guaranteed to reach their table when previously it may not have been. In the first and last CSA style the farmer is guaranteed both a market and land to work. In the second option people who may have never known the origin of food or the importance of agriculture are exposed to this lesson.
Saturday, 9/23 our class visited the Fifer Orchard around Dover, DE. On the way there, I was wondering why we did not just go around the corner to see Milburn Orchards; they have apples and awesome apple cider too! It all made sense when we got there though.
Fifer Orchards was huge, and we were given a pamphlet listing all the fruits and vegetables they grew. I never imagined it would be that much. When taken to some vegetable fields, I was surprised that they not only grew traditional cauliflower, but they grew cheddar cauliflower, explained that it had beta-carotene in it, and purple cauliflower because the consumers asked for it!
It was great applying other classes to the field trip as well. Pictured here is drip irrigation in strawberries, which I learned the benefits about in PLSC204!
Of course we ended the trip with a trip to the market; the apple cider slushies were to die for!
This weekend was the second field trip of the semester! Fall is just getting started, and I couldn’t have picked a better place to go: an apple orchard! Fifers Orchard is a 4th generation, family-run farm in Camden-Wyoming, Delaware, and we were lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at the entire operation.The tour was given by Bobby Fifer, and started at the heart of the business: the farm. We were able to see a portion of the land where they grow and harvest their fresh produce. With nearly 3,000 acres of farmland they grow many different crops, including kale, cauliflower, strawberries and of course apples! We learned that they grow cauliflower of unusual colors, including purple and orange, as well as over 20 different varieties of apples. But by far, their biggest money-maker is sweet corn; Fifer’s supplies corn to the entire east coast, and nearly every state east of the Mississippi! After seeing the farm, we were taken to the packaging and distribution center. We learned about some of the technology that is used for sorting fruits, tomatoes, and peaches, and talked with Curt Fifer, Bobby’s brother and the man behind the shipments/sales. After talking with us about some of the challenges that can be encountered during the shipping process we were taken to their brick and mortar store and introduced to their cousin, Michael. We discussed the marketing side of the business and their CSA program. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s like a weekly subscription to fresh produce. Every week you receive a box of various fruits and vegetables that are currently in season, straight from the farm. CSAs are one of their most reliable ways of making sales, as well as great opportunities for advertisement and getting people to eat fresh.
At the end of the day we raided the store for all sorts of goodies – delicious baked goods, fresh ciders, and much, much more. Everyone went home with their hands full and pockets empty from this one-of-a-kind field trip.
My experience at Fifer Orchards was superb! From the minute I gazed upon the farm I knew I was in for a treat! The diversity of crops of fruits, vegetables, and how they’re treated was simply impressive, in today’s era Fifer Orchard’s harvest has produced strawberries, 27 varieties of apples, 36 varieties of peach, blueberries, nectarines, plums, cherries, sweet corn, asparagus, etc. Sweet corn has been the most dominant production, and can either be harvested or machine harvested. Sweet corn is the only crop that is machine harvested on the farm! The most intriguing part about this farm is it’s not just a farm, but a fantastic fresh market with an unbelievable amount of different kinds of foods for the customers. The market has anything from fresh hand- picked apples to hand dipped ice cream and apple cider slushies. What also separates this farm from many others on Delmarva is the Community Supported Agriculture Club, also called the Delmarva box. This club consists of a weekly box with a variety of fruits and vegetables for 18 weeks straight. This helps reach the attainable goal of no waste from any of the produce! So clearly Fifer orchards is a top tier produce farm, and I really am intrigued and look forward to visiting again as there is much more to learn!
On the 23rd of September, we went to have a tour of Fifer Orchards located in Camden-Wyoming, Delaware. This +2,500 acre farm is a fourth generation family run farm. Bobby Fifer gave us a tour of the farm along with going out in the fields to look at the different types of irrigation systems they have in the fields ( center pivot irrigation and drip irrigation) As well as being showed the fields and where the fruit and produce was being grown we got a chance to look in the packaging and distribution center and how each of the items is processed to enter our local stores and businesses. One extremely interesting thing that I found out while on the farm was that the orchard ships all up and down the east coast and east of the Mississippi River! This is beyond incredible especially for us being such a small state. Another thing that I found to be interesting was that there is a program called the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this is where the farm puts together pre-paid boxes of produce and have drop-off locations for families to pick up produce. This is more effective that farmers market because there is little to no product waste. Whereas at farmers markets you can run out of produce and make the customer upset or you can bring to much of a certain product and then have leftovers which would have to be thrown away. Fifer’s Orchard always has events and activities going on each weekend. This week was the kick off to their fall fest and there were so many games for kids and vendors for shopping. They also had their shop open which had the BEST Apple CIder Slushies! This was by far one of my favorite field trips and will definitely be visiting them soon again