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It all started with a dream, 4 girls, and some hoes. Today the 4 girls run the business with big dreams and bigger tools, but they still have hoes to use from time to time!
In 2004 the Kern family found the place in the country they had always dreamed of, built their house and moved in in early 2005. Planting fruits and vegetables had always been part of the plan, so when Dad decided to plant a whole orchard everyone was a little shocked, but jumped right on board. In the spring of 2005, by the grace of God and some persuasion, dad convinced the nursery to sell him some plants even though it was getting too late to plant. And so we went from a few fruit trees and a garden to a couple hundred peach and apple trees, a few cherry trees, and a small plot of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.
We were off to a rocky start the first few years just trying to learn the ropes and assign responsibilities. Who would have believed there could be sooo many weeds! We learned many things from trial and error and always pushed through hardships and celebrated victories together as a family. After our initial blueberry plants died, we replanted in 2007 with more mature nursery stock and expanded our plantings in 2008, 2009, and 2011. We also lost and replanted raspberries several times. In 2006 we added asparagus to our crops and have continued to expand our patch.
The drought of 2012 was a difficult one for us as we struggled to get water for our plants. We put in an irrigation system but still ended up losing 4 acres of blueberries. We condensed what we had left of the blueberries and planted raspberries and blackberries in their place. While the strawberries are a big favorite at our orchard, they remained one of the biggest problems for weeds, so in 2012 we also purchased a plastic mulch layer for our strawberries to both reduce weeds and retain moisture.
Despite the loss, the drought encouraged us to branch out and in 2013 we started making goat milk soap and lotion products. We converted our garage into a sales shop and purchased several commercial coolers for more convenient display of our fruit. As we expanded, we also stepped out into marketing by creating a business Facebook page to reach our growing customers, attending craft fairs in the winter to sell our soap and lotion, and selling fruit at farmers markets during the summer. In 2014 we put up a high tunnel (greenhouse) to extend our growing season and for growing new vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.
Over the years we have seen our business grow slowly but surely as we learn more from everything we do. We have come a long way since the days of selling strawberries in whip cream containers and taking orders at customer car doors. We hope to continue to grow just as much and always learn more because we love our work and believe in our dreams. We are excited about the road ahead of us and where it might lead, and we hope you'll join us!
Overseeing the apples is Jacinta's portion of our business. She is our go to girl for varieties, availability and what might make a better cooking or eating apple. She also enjoys being a beekeeper and cares for the hives we have here at the orchard for pollination.
Maria is our small fruits girl, and that job includes managing the strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. She also enjoys taking leadership in our high tunnel where we grow fresh vegetables.
Kateri's areas of expertise are the peaches and fall pumpkins. She also handles our online communications and marketing by running the Facebook page, website, and emails.
The blackberries and cherries fall under Lucia's care as well as her small herd of sheep and our dairy goats, which she and Kateri milk. She also enjoys helping with customers and accomodating u-pickers.
Dad is the one who got this whole thing started by planting "a few" fruit trees. Since then he has supported us girls and is always ready to do whatever odd jobs we need done. He is the asparagus man, and enjoys his cows and working with his girls.
Mom is our sales lady, she's the one usually in the shop and answering the phone. She loves talking to all of you when you come, meeting new people, and little kids.