Did you know that the Honeycrisp Apple is the Minnesota state fruit? On this virtual field trip, we visit Fireside Orchard & Gardens to learn about growing apples and making apple cider.
About Fireside Orchard & Gardens
Fireside Orchard & Gardens in Northfield, Minnesota is home to 27 different apple varieties. The orchard is 57 acres total, and apples are grown on 30 of those acres. At the orchard, there is a production building that processes the apples and a retail store that sells the apples and products made from the apples. Fireside Orchard & Gardens is also home to a rose garden and a koi pond, so visitors to the orchard can enjoy a variety of activities related to nature. Darren Winfield, owner of the orchard, takes us on a tour to give us a better understanding of the process of apple growing and harvesting.
The apple trees at the orchard stay alive year round, and apples are usually harvested in the fall. During the winter months, every tree is pruned by hand to pick off the bad branches and keep the trees uniform. The trees are also trimmed to maintain a short height, so that pickers can pick the apples safely. When it comes time to harvest in the fall, trees at prime production produce 80 to 120 pounds of apples. The apples can be picked up until the first freeze, and they are put into large bins.
What Happens in the Production Building?
In the production building, the apples are cleaned to either be sold fresh or to be made into an apple product, like cider. The apples ride a conveyor belt and are cleaned by cleaning brushes, then sorted. The apples that will make apple cider move to an elevator that lifts them into a pulverizer, which grinds the apples into a pulp. That pulp is squeezed and the juice is collected to make apple cider. The cider is sold in the Fireside Orchard retail store for visitors to buy and taste.