NEW FOR 2017 - Peach and Apple CSA

Don’t  worry about rushing to the farmers’ market for hand-picked peaches and apples this summer and fall! This year, for the first time, we are partnering with The Seasoned Farmhouse to offer a peach and apple CSA. Tricia Wheeler, the owner of the Farmhouse will include recipes and suggestions for using your fruit in delicious ways throughout the season.

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It is a way for farmers to get their food directly to consumers. You join by buying a share (box) and get food from the farm throughout the growing season. In our case it is a peck of peaches or apples delivered every two weeks.

How it works:

You prepay $144 ($18 per peck) for 8 weeks of fruit. We will deliver to The Seasoned Farmhouse every other Monday during the summer and fall. Deliveries start in mid-July, depending on the weather. We will keep you updated as the season approaches. You arrive between 4:30 and 6:30 to pick up your peaches or apples. It’s that simple. Because you prepay you don’t have to worry about bringing money.

If you can't pick up before 6:30 we'll leave your share on the back porch. If you have a neighbor or friend pick up please make sure they check your name off. We'll send an email the morning of the delivery letting you know what varieties are included. We’re sorry, but we cannot offer partial shares, only the full eight.

Tentative Delivery Dates (all Mondays):

July 17

July 31

Aug 14

Aug 28

Sept 11

Sept 25

Oct 9

Oct 23

If a natural disaster (such as a severe hail or wind storm) damages the crop we will do our best to provide peaches and apples. We hope that you will understand if we cannot bring the expected delivery. We will notify you beforehand and will substitute other types of our fruit if possible.

Space is limited to how many pecks we can fit on a truck. If you would like to participate send an email to branstoolorchards@gmail.com and we’ll get back in touch with you to confirm details and to arrange payment. Make sure to include how many pecks you’d like every delivery; one share = one peck = $144. NO NEED TO PAY NOW.

Please contact us with any questions. And, thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We're hiring for the summer and fall.

As summer approaches Branstool Orchards is hiring some seasonal employees. We’re looking for hard-working people who can handle potentially long shifts (6-10 hours) standing on a cement floor. It's equally important to be able to provide friendly and engaging customer service. Retail experience is a plus, but is not required. We need people who are available a minimum of two days a week, during the following days and hours: Sunday 9a.m-5p.m, Monday-Saturday 8a.m.-6p.m.  You do not need to be available for the entire day, but the longer you’re available, the better.

What is it like working at Branstool Orchards? We love having our share of fun at the orchard, but it’s very important that we stay focused and work hard. It can be fast-paced, especially on the weekends, but it is never boring. We are looking for people who are enthusiastic, friendly and genuinely enjoy working with the public. There is always plenty of work to go around, from sorting peaches and making boxes to unloading and displaying produce from auctions.

Interested? Great! Send an email to Marshall at branstoolorchards@gmail.com and provide your name, your general availability between April and October, and a brief paragraph explaining who you are and why you're interested in working for us. We will then reply to your e-mail should we decide we’d like to further discuss bringing you on board.

We are located 35 miles east of Columbus, about 30 minutes from the intersection of Routes 161 & 62. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

It's April and we are busy!

The orchard is definitely waking up. We had a great winter are ready to get back to work on the farm. The first week of the season flew by! We planted, pruned, organized and solidified farmers' market schedules. We planted 600 apple trees: Crimson Topaz, Goldrush & Pixie Crunch and three new peach varieties. Their names alone are beautiful: Red Globe, Roza & Veteran. Can you imagine what the blossoms and fruit will look like? We're looking forward to seeing how they will do. We are planting 1400 more apple and peach trees in the coming weeks.

While we've been able to get a lot done in the warm weather we are still hoping for seasonal, cooler temperatures to close out March. The peach crop looks good so far, but we still have some cold nights and mornings to get through. We will let you know as soon as we have more news. 

Jack, our resident farm dog, is going to celebrate his first birthday soon. He chases nonstop after birds, tractors and Marshall unless he is digging, digging, digging! If only we could get him to dig consistently-spaced holes in straight lines ... he would be such a great addition to the crew. Check out this short video of how we dig and plant.

We post often on Facebook and Instagramemail us if you can't find what you're looking for and we'll get right back to you.

 Looking forward to a great 2017 season! Get in touch; we love to hear from you!

getting ready for spring ...

It's March! That means that warmer weather is on the way.

Winter in the orchard is the time to take a deep breath, go on long-anticipated vacations, catch up on sleep and enjoy the snow. It's also the time for vehicle maintenance, ordering trees, prepping fields, clearing branches and apples from the grass, and attending meetings with other growers. Of course, these jobs are made all the more fun with the help of Jack! He's almost one and he has been a great help digging holes, chasing deer and always being at Marshall's side. Well, except for when he is running laps around the orchard.

Once April gets here we'll be busy pruning, planting and getting the market ready for the 2017 season. Watch for lots of news then!

 

 

 

Honeycrisp Weekend

That's right, it's finally a Honeycrisp weekend!

We will have them in the market and for U-Pick starting Saturday morning, and we will have a lot of them at Saturday morning's farmers markets in Clintonville, Granville and Worthington.

Also ready this weekend for U-Pick are Gala, Tsugaru, Zestar and Cortland.

These varieties will be available in the market too, along with Ginger Gold, Blondee and Swiss Gourmet.

We will have a combination of these apples at the farmers markets with the Honeycrisp.

We are in between varieties with the peaches, but the season isn't quite over yet. But because they aren't quite ripe enough, we're going to let them hang a few more days. It's looking like it will be mid-week before they're ready to be picked. That means we should have more U-Pick peaches ready within the next week - fingers crossed!

In the meantime, we will likely sell out every day so please call ahead the day you plan on coming out if you're coming specifically for peaches.

Don't forget - we're going to be closed on Labor Day to give our hardworking staff a much-deserved day off. 

We're also going to be closed on Mondays for the rest of the season. Our hours will remain the same for the rest of the days.

Enjoy your holiday weekend! 

Help Wanted

It’s that time of year again when our summer kids head back to school and we’re looking for some extra hands to step in and fill their shoes.

Who are we looking for? We’re looking for hard-working people who can handle potentially long shifts  (6-10 hours) standing on a cement floor. It's equally important to be able to provide friendly and engaging customer service. Retail experience is a BIG plus, but not required. We need people who are available a minimum of 2 days a week, during the following days and hours: Sunday 9a.m-5p.m, Monday-Saturday 8a.m.-6p.m.  You do not need to be available for the entire day, but the longer you’re available, the better.

What is it like working at Branstool Orchards? We love having our share of fun at the orchard, but it’s very important that we stay focused and work hard. It can be very fast-paced, especially on the weekends, but that just makes the day fly by faster! There is always plenty of work to go around, from sorting peaches and making boxes to unloading and displaying produce from auctions – you won’t get bored!

Interested? Great! Send an email to Tessa at branstoolorchards@gmail.com (do not reply to this e-mail) and provide your name, your general availability between now and the end of October, and a brief paragraph explaining who you are and why you're interested in working for us. We will then reply to your e-mail should we decide we’d like to further discuss bringing you on board. 

We look forward to hearing from you! 

 

 

 

Are YOU ready for U-Pick?

It's been two long years since the last time we've had enough peaches for U-Pick. Our orchard will officially be open for picking for the 2016 season on July 26. The peaches will be $1.50 per pound, with a $10 minimum. Picking hours will be 10am-4pm on Sunday and 9am-5pm Monday through Saturday. We will have boxes on hand for you to pick in, but you're more than welcome to bring your own containers. Below, Marshall has a picking tip for you to make sure you're choosing the best peaches:

It's almost time...

It's been a very busy spring for us here at the orchard, and we've got some pretty exciting bits of news to share with you.

First and foremost, the peaches are lookin' gooood. We've had our hands full thinning them all - a very good problem to have and one we've certainly missed. But all this thinning will allow the peaches to size up to fist-size, just how we like 'em!

At this point it looks like we'll be opening in just about a month. Woo hoo! Our first peach variety, Early Red Haven, should be ready to pick the middle of July. We'll have more updates coming your way as we get closer to opening.

In the meantime, check out these very exciting updates:


Please meet our newest (and cutest) employee, Jack:

Jack is about three months old now, and he's getting very used to hanging around Marshall's feet out in the orchard. We're going to try to have him down at the market as much as we can for you all to see, but being situated so close to such a busy highway means we're going to be very cautious about when and how often we have him down there. 


We're getting a facelift...

We're going to have a new look this season, as we're adding on and renovating our market. You'll see a slightly new design, some more natural lighting, and a few new colors. We're very excited to reveal our new and improved market to you in just about a month.


Hopefully you're as ready as we are to finally enjoy some sweet, delicious, home-grown peaches again, because we're gearing up for an excellent season! We'll be in touch again soon, and it won't be much longer before we get to see all your smiling faces again. 

 

New for 2016

We're very excited to announce the addition of two new farmers markets to our schedule this summer: Canal Market District in Newark and the Worthington Farmers Market. The Canal Market District farmers market is held on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Worthington is Saturday mornings. Here's what our weekly lineup looks like:

We are really looking forward to meeting lots of new customers at our newest markets, and of course seeing the familiar faces at all the others!

We're Hiring!

Are any of our favorite peach- and apple-lovers looking for some seasonal work? 

We are currently hiring employees to work in our market from roughly August 1 - October 31. If you're interested, please shoot us an email (branstoolorchards@gmail.com) including the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your current city
  • Your hours of availability
  • A brief paragraph explaining who you are, and why you'd be a great fit.

Job Requirements:

  • Able to lift 35+ pounds
  • Capable of standing on cement floors for 5-10 hours
  • Comfortable and friendly with customers
  • Able to operate an iPad
  • Must be available to work weekends
  • Retail experience a plus

We look forward to hearing from you!

BEHIND THE SCENES: LIVE! FROM BRANSTOOL ORCHARDS

Last week we had some pretty exciting action take place at the orchard. Local news channel Fox 28 sent out a live reporter on Friday morning to do a few live segments. Here's a recap of how our morning went:

I met Marshall at the market at 7 a.m. for some last minute preparation: tidying the shelves, setting up the weekend displays, cleaning, etc. The amigos got there around the same time to start grading and bagging apples.

A little after 8 a.m., Dana Turtle and Edwin Wilson of ABC 6/Fox 28 arrived, and after a quick briefing, we were off and running with the first live feature (but not before having a little bit of fun...):

The first segment was about the apple-grading process and featured the amigos running Golden Delicious apples across the grader while Marshall talked about all the weekend preparation that goes into a Friday morning.

After the grading segment, we hiked out to the orchard northeast of the market. Our next segment was shot between two rows of our newer apple varieties: Florina and Topaz. Marshall discussed these apples in depth, and also offered pointers on what to look for when picking your own Topaz. 

For the third segment, we moved over to the west side of the market near our super popular Suncrisp apples and one of our pumpkin patches. Marshall covered picking tips for Suncrisp and why it's one of our most popular varieties, and he even demonstrated the proper way to crunch into an apple. Dana even had a pumpkin from our patch on hand for a quick cameo.

To finish up, we headed back into the market to talk about the various produce we sell and all the goodies we bring in from local foodies, like Goumas Confections and ToddleSquat Bakery. A couple minutes before Edwin was set to start rolling the camera, Marshall decided he was just going to sit this one out [read: throw me under the bus]. HOWEVER.. I totally lucked out. Just as my live television debut was getting started, there was an equipment malfunction, and I only had to suffer for a few seconds. I was bummed that we didn't get those extra couple of minutes of exposure for Branstool Orchards, but I was plenty happy to get out of my segment.

Overall this opportunity was great for us. We had a good time with Dana and Edwin, and Marshall did a fantastic job on the air - he was charismatic, comical and informative. Check out the videos for yourself!

WE NEED YOUR HELP

Would you like to win a free peck of apples? Here's the scoop:

A couple years ago, we planted a few apple trees, and it turns out that they are not the variety they were supposed to be. We aren't quite sure what variety they are, we just know they taste delicious (dare we say - similar to Fuji?).

So this is where you come into play. Come on out this weekend, give the apple a try, and help us give it a name. *It's important to know that we do not have a large supply of this variety, so I would highly suggest getting out this weekend.* You will be able to submit you suggestions via Facebook (post on our wall or send us a message), via Twitter (#BranstoolAppleNaming), or via email. The person who submits the most creative, most appropriate name (decided by Marshall) will get a free peck of apples.

You have until next Friday (09/19) to get your name suggestion submitted. Good luck!

FOODIE FRIDAY: APPLE SNICKERDOODLE COBBLER

Last fall, I stumbled across a delicious-sounding recipe on Bake by Rachel. I was hungry and intrigued, so I gave it a try. 

Oh. My. Goodness.  It's a sin how good it was. So I decided to reprise it this year, and share it with all of you.

I enlisted the help of my 4-year-old and 20-month-old nieces, and had an absolute blast making such a scrumptious afternoon treat.

APPLE SNICKERDOODLE COBBLER

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg (farm fresh is always best)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

APPLE FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 cups apples (I used six: 1 Ginger Gold, 1 Elstar, 3 Honeycrisp, 1 Swiss Gourmet)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix together the first four cookie ingredients (cream of tartar, salt, baking powder, flour) and set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the softened butter and the 1/3 cup sugar.
  3. Add the egg. Combine.
  4. Mix in the combined dry ingredients (from Step 1) until fully incorporated.
  5. Refrigerate the cookie dough for several hours. (Mine chilled for four hours.)
  6. Relax: take a nap, walk the dog, bingewatch Netflix, come visit us at the Orhcard (and get your apples for the next step). Do whatever tickles your fancy to kill time until the dough is easy to handle.
  7. Once the dough has been chilling a while and you're ready to continue, grab it out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  8. Combine the 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar (from cookie ingredients) in a small bowl and set aside for later.
  9. Mix the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl. Peel, slice and core the apples and add them to the bowl with the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture; toss to coat.
  10.  Place the apples in an 8x8 baking dish.
  11. Return to the cookie dough: roll into 1-inch balls and coat with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Using your hands, flatten the balls slightly and place on top of apples. (I had a lot of the cinnamon/sugar left over, so I sprinkled some of it on the top.)
  12. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the topping is a nice golden-brown.
  13. ENJOY!

HOW TO: FARMERS MARKETS

I have certainly spent my fair share of time at farmers markets. Though most of the time I am busy selling peaches and apples, sometimes I get lucky and can steal away for a few minutes. When I can, I love browsing the fresh produce and homemade products, and I love swapping stories with the other vendors. While I make no claims to be an expert on maneuvering the markets, I can certainly offer the tips I have learned from my experience as a vendor and a shopper. Hopefully, you can implement these suggestions to ensure an easy-going market experience:

  • Arrive Early: Several vendors have established loyal customers who are already waiting when the selling bell sounds. Because the best produce sells the quickest, getting to the market early (not just on time), will help ensure that you have the best selection possible.
  • Invest in reusable bags, and bring them: Not all vendors are equipped with bags, and if they are, they may not be large enough or strong enough to accommodate your other purchases. And who wants to juggle six or seven bags? Not me. Most reusable bags are large and sturdy so you can combine all of your purchases into just a couple of bags.
  • Bring cash: Cash, specifically small bills, is much easier and much quicker than credit cards - and is accepted by all vendors. Not every seller will have a way to accept credit cards, and not all are signed up for the various coupons or tokens offered by the farmers market. Trust me, sticking with cash is the way to go.
  • Leave your car at home: Not all farmers markets have good nearby parking options, so trying to find a place to park can be a hassle. If you live close enough, take the opportunity to get your exercise and walk to the market. You could also ride your bike, plan on parking farther away, or have someone drop you off and pick you up.
  • Get chatty: Don't hesitate to ask questions or get to know your vendors. One of my favorite parts about selling at farmers markets is conversing with the customers. After a few weeks, repeat customers at each market begin to stand out, and it's nice to develop relationships with them. This is also an easy way to get all the info you need about the produce. No one knows better than the producer how to properly store and/or ripen their products. 
  • Do some pre-shopping research: Most businesses are online to some extent now, so check out a list of vendors that are going to be at your market. Then check out those vendors' websites so you can read up on their products and practices. That way, you know ahead of time who will be offering what, and whether or not they will be organic, grain-fed or grass fed, etc. 
  • Be flexible: I always take two lists - one of things I absolutely need, and another of things I'd like to get, but could do without if they aren't within my budget or don't look the best that week. It's also important to keep an open mind about what may be at the market that you didn't think of in advance.  It is easy to get frustrated if you have a long list of things you can’t leave without and the producers didn’t bring it that particular week, or the pickings are slim. Believe me, I would love to be able to count on the farmers markets week in and week out for my grocery runs, but sometimes that’s just not feasible. Taking recipes with you can replace making a list, or allow you to get creative with substitutes available at the market.
  • Plan for patience: Be prepared to wait in lines. Sometimes popular vendors gather quite the crowd, and sometimes vendors get caught up with a customer for a few extra minutes. Odds are, they are willing to spend just as much time with you.
  • Browse before buying: Don't buy something the first time you see it. Rather, take a few minutes and stroll through the entire market, comparing prices and quality.

Again, I am not a professional at navigating farmers markets. But my experience as a vendor and a shopper has taught me how to make it fun and stress-free shopping trip. Hopefully you can use these tips to enhance your time at the market.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES: PRODUCE AUCTIONS

It's official: going to the produce auctions is the best part of working at Branstool Orchards. Thursday I tagged along with Marshall and took my handy-dandy camera to get a few shots of him doin' his thang. But at the end of the trip I was busting at the seams with a blog post. So here is your sneak peak into a morning at the Mt. Hope Auction.

Marshall and I got an early start and rolled out of the orchard shortly after 8 a.m. The sale starts at 10 a.m., and it takes about an hour and 10 minutes to get there in the big box truck. After a quick coffee stop, we pulled in about 9:30 a.m. 

First order of business was to unload our apples and skids (or catch up with other auction-goers if you're Marshall):

After the truck was empty and ready to be filled, we parked it against the loading docks and headed to check in. Once registered, we had to tag the produce we brought:

It was then time to survey the produce and figure out what would be good to bid on and bring into the market:

It's at this point that Marshall dropped the bomb on me - he wasn't going to be the only one bidding. Uhhh.. what? Me? Make purchasing decisions? HA! I just came to take pictures and weigh in on what would look good in the market. Apparently Marshall had other ideas. (They apparently have two different auctioneers working at two different areas - information I think I would have liked to have had before agreeing to go!) I was immediately nervous. What if I paid too much for something?! (I did.) What if I forgot to bid on something?! (I did.) What if I got flustered and bid (and won!) something I wasn't supposed to?! (I did.) But even with all those mistakes, I still have my job.

Bidding started a little before 10 a.m., but I was in my spot and ready to go. I was blown away with how quickly the selling moved along.  I knew auctioneers called out quickly, but I didn't realize it was that fast. Whoa. It took a couple of rounds for me to keep up with the price changes and the dialogue. But I think I finally got a grip and was able to make some good purchasing decisions. 

Marshall and I kept in touch throughout the auction, making sure we didn't buy duplicates (we did) and just refreshing each other on what all we wanted to get. And of course, I wanted to get a few quick pictures of Marshall bidding:

The bidding finally wrapped up around noon, and it was time to check out and load up the truck:

After we loaded everything onto the truck, we double checked our receipt to make sure we had everything (and notice to total price, haha!), and then we were ready to head home:

We pulled back into our market around 1:30 and it was time to unload, figure prices, and get the produce out for sale. With such a full truck, it took four of us a good two hours to get everything ready for the weekend:

It was a long day, but well worth it. My main take-aways from my first (and hopefully not last!) trip to the produce auctions:

  1. It's not as easy as it looks. Keeping up with the experienced buyers requires extreme concentration and is very intimidating.
  2. People mean business. I don't know how many times I got knocked out of the way if I was up front and not bidding. Crazy!
  3. Marshall loves chocolate-vanilla twist soft serve ice cream. No. Really. He had two of them. Before 11:30 a.m.

I hope you come check out all the beautiful veggies we stocked up on for the weekend - we're very proud of what we have to offer!

GEARING UP FOR AN APPLE-FILLED SUMMER

We're back! Almost...

Hopefully you've missed the orchard just as much as the orchard has missed you.

It was a long, enjoyable offseason for all of us at the orchard. Except for that little glitch when we lost our peach crop to those nasty, cold temperatures at the beginning of the year. Ooops.. you hadn't heard yet? Well then maybe you should head on over to our Facebook page and like us so you can get your info a wee bit sooner. Or maybe I need to do a better job of maintaining the blog in the offseason? Let's compromise; you like us on Facebook, and I'll make a better effort to give this blog more attention between seasons. Deal? Deal. (Trust me, you'll thank me later for guiding you to our Facebook.)

But in the meantime, I'll fill you in on what you've missed so far...

So. Our peaches aren't going to be here this summer...

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be. Even though those bitter temperatures wiped out our peaches, we still have plenty of excitement planned for the 2014 season. 

I know you're all going to miss the summer staple of sinfully-sweet peach juice dripping down your chin. Believe me, so am I. But there are some pretty awesome apples that ripen in August that can easily be overlooked when there's a big 'ole spotlight on the peaches. "But apples are the fruit of fall and peaches are the summer fruit.." Blah, blah, blah. Yes, peaches are spectacular and we're all going to miss them dearly this summer. But give the summer apples a chance. Zestar and Tsugaru are two summer apples that top many customers' favorites list. Mollie's Delicious is a traditional flavor that is frequently requested, and Initial and Blondee are two newer varieties that are easy to fall in love with. Don't count the apples out just because they ripen in August; they can be just as refreshing, sticky and delightfully tasty as peaches. 

For those of you who just. can't. bear. the thought of walking into the market and not smelling peaches, rest assured. Marshall is working diligently to make connections with a couple of out-of-state orchards who may be able to supply us with peaches. We are also very grateful that all of our trees survived the brutal temperatures, so we still have another shot in 2015.

Fall festivities in the works...

In regards to whether or not there should be a special Branstool Orchards festival in the fall, our Facebook fans all seem to agree that it should happen. So, I guess that means we hafta, huh? Good! We're really excited about how enthusiastic everyone was about this idea, and we have already begun planning a fantastic event, just for you. Picture games, face painting, hayrides and more! There are still a lot of details to work out, but we're off to an exciting start. Feel free to e-mail us,  leave us a comment on Facebook, or tweet using #BranstoolFestival with any suggestions you may have that will help make the festival a blast for everyone. 

We threw even more social media into the mix...

Juuust in case you can't get enough of our tweets, blogs, e-newsletters and Facebook posts, you can now connect with us on Pinterest, too. Make sure you follow us on Pinterest to keep up with our favorite recipes, decor suggestions and fall festival possibilities. If you follow us, we'll follow you back and, who knows? Maybe one of your pins will inspire a great event at the festival or a new display in the market.

That's a wrap...

So, I believe you are all caught up now. Stay tuned for more updates, and again.. follow us on social media for the most frequent updates.

See you all soon!

Closed for the Season

Branstool Orchards is now closed for the season. 

We would like to extended our utmost gratitude to all of our wonderful customers for supporting us through yet another season.  We appreciate each and every one of you, and know we would not succeed without you, nor would we enjoy what we do without you. 

To stay connected with us during the offseason, feel free to like our page on Facebook.

Again, thank you for your generous support this season, and we look forward to seeing you all again next summer.

Enjoy your holidays!