Our recent trip to Fifer Orchards was very interesting. It was the first time that I’ve been behind the scenes at an orchard or farm of that size, and I thought it was an incredible operation. We drove out to a field which was growing kale and broccoli first, and learned about how they are grown; as well as challenge like disease,insects and the weather. I also learned about the purpose of raised beds when growing strawberries. The purpose of the raised beds is to keep the crop out of the water, and control the amount of irrigation they are getting. After seeing some of Fifer Orchards’ fields, we went and saw the apple orchard. They currently grow over 20 types of apples, and make many of their own products with those apples. They also ship the apples all over the east coast. Finally, we saw their packing area and cold storage. They have a machine that can separate good and bad apples, tomatoes, and peaches through a computer program. It was amazing to see what a large operation Fifer Orchards is and to learn about agriculture and business aspects of running a farm like that.
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.
Fifer Orchards is a local farm and country store located in Camden-Wyoming, DE. Tilling over 2800 acres Fifers produces a diverse amount of crops along with their biggest profit sweet corn. This past summer I was fortunate enough to work at Fifer Orchards and after the field trip I gained even more respect for the farm and the things they do to benefit the community and the agriculture industry. Throughout the field trip we were taken to several fields and shown many different crops, one of the most interesting was kale which is hand harvested. We were then given a tour of the packing house and cooler and shown the behind the scenes that goes into getting Fifer Orchards produce out to the public. We were lucky enough to visit on the first day of the fall fest so it was a busy Saturday for the Fifer Orchards staff. The farm puts on many events for the community throughout the year such as the strawberry festival, customer appreciation day and the fall fest. Apple cider slushes couldn’t be handed out fast enough to the customers. After working at Fifers over the summer and the field trip I have really seen the hard work that goes into the family business and how hard the family strives to serve the community.
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