Canton Apples: Open House 2020 Edition
Canton Apples started in 2011.
I started as a u-pick with an ‘honor payment’ box and found great demand and community support and continued to grow and expand. I now have orchards at 3 different locations in Canton and produce a line of ciders and sell heirlooms to hard cider and winemakers.
We grow our fruits in a holistic way. We consider soil health along with plant and worker health. We mainly use neem oil and kaolin clay for sprays and try to fertilize with compost and wood chips when available. Our fruits may not be supermarket aesthetic quality, but we feel the flavor is much better.
Local to me means to start as close to home as possible. From there, make the circle a little larger to find what you are looking for. For example, we utilize all of our own fruit to sell, and in our ciders first, then we look to other local producers and more regionally as supplies are consumed.
I like the people I meet who enjoy a good quality product and appreciate healthy food. When I mean good quality, I don’t mean an apple with no blemishes, I mean an apple that is grown in a responsible way that is good for the environment and good for human health.
The challenges we face the most are weather and climate. It is something we cannot control but just have to deal with it.
I also find customer education can be a challenge. Many people do not understand how difficult it can be to produce a nice apple from the initial tree planting to growing and pruning, to pest management, harvest, and then sorting and bagging. There is a long cycle that takes time and energy.
The Co-op provides a great outlet for our product on a daily basis where we do not have a storefront to provide that service.
My plan for the future is to build a sustainable business that can move forward efficiently to keep providing a healthy product to our community. I am working on building our cider business to handle more quantity and we are finding demand grows every year. I want to maintain producing cider in small batches because that is where the quality control really happens.