I thought about what would be a special treat for you, something anyone would love to have. hmmmm and then it hit me. I had told you a few weeks ago about DeGroot Orchards and those wonderful caramels we had purchased when we went. So I got the Mr. up and we drove the almost 30 miles there to get these treats for you.
Today was the perfect fall day to go, a chill was in the air, but not so cold where it was uncomfortable. Slightly over cast, yes today was the perfect, Go to the Apple Orchard Day!
As I drove I remembered the same trips I made on days like this with my mother and sisters. Only back then, we got to pick the apples ourselves which was so much fun. Then my mind drifted to what seemed like yesterday when we made these trips out with our own children to get apples. Fall meant, apple sauce, apple jelly, apple pies, stewed apples and apple dumplings.The house was filled with the apple spicy sent that so many of us try to replicate with candles and cans of air freshener. Being an empty nester, I still do some of the preserving but not nearly as much as before...it kind of sucks not having young people around that wants to gobble up the treats as fast as I could make them...So on we went. I was pretty thrilled knowing I was going to get stuff for you guys.
I knew I was there because I started to see the trees laden with apples, then the sign and the turn to go in.
Just beyond the sign is the pumpkin patch and the building not far behind that. It is so familiar to us, we have been coming here for the last 15 years. Like most people we just stopped in picked what we wanted, paid and left. Not really taking the time to get to know the people that ran the place. Our lives have always been too busy. But the last time I was there, I stopped and chatted. I asked if I could write about them in our blog. Why? Because when you come to the DeGroot's Orchard, you feel welcome. You feel like your stopping in to see family and you are treated with warmth and consideration. It is an old fashioned family owned and operated farm with old fashioned values. It feels like you are coming home when you walk in.
Squash and PumpkinsYou can even pick your own!
Inside you find the apples of course
And an assortment of other locally produced items like honey, caramel apple kits and home made knit hats
Then there are some of the best preserves I have had, that I did not make myself. I suppose that is because they are Grama's.
I also discovered hedge fruit
this amazing gourd will keep spiders and other nasty crawly things away from your house...
Then there was some pretty sweet Gourd art and bird houses. there is a table filled with bags of seconds ( not first rate apples) due to hail damage. In fact, this year and the most popular apple Honey Crisps were hard hit so the crop was small and they are sold out...darn....
But the real treat is meeting Cindy, she and her husband Tom own and operate the orchard and farm which has been in the family for over 70 years since Grandpa Antone DeGroot first established the business. It hasn't been all apple blossoms and pumpkin pies for this family, they have worked hard, in fact the whole thing got wiped out in 1940 and Mr. DeGroot had to start it all from the beginning. His main crop was apple trees and strawberries. They now raise corn, and soybeans as well as the 38 acres filled with 22 varieties of apples.
Cindy moved to the farm when Tom got out of the Army in 1971. He brought his wife home with him and they have been there every since. Cindy laughs because, at that time she only knew that apples were red or green, but now she is a pro! When Tom's parent's passed away the business became theirs and one day it will pass on to their only son Todd who also works with them.
Cindy is truly modest and had a hard time tooting her own horn as she says, her gift is making you feel welcome and guiding you effortlessly through the world of apples always with a warm sweet smile on her face. I saw no one walk out with out munching on a sample and a bag of apples under their arm.
When I saw the people in the back room I asked if they were family she said no they were friends and neighbors, Fay Kurpequeit , "Mac" Bruce Maclarin and Hans but she quickly added we are Blessed they are more family then helpers to us.
In the back room they sort and bag the apples and put them out to sell. Normally the DeGroots have cider but the machine broke so none this year..maybe next?
On our first visit we bought some caramels, they had to be the best I have ever had. Cindy says that the girl that produces them, makes them to order so they are the freshest best quality always.
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Disclaimer: DeGroot Orchards did NOT provide me with any free products beyond an in store sample, and I was under no obligation to review their store or products. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for any consideration. This article is based solely on my opinion alone.