[NAFEX] Ceely Will's new farm
murphman108 at msn.com
Sun May 10 23:51:39 EDT 2009
You remind me a bit of myself. I have built a small 200 tree, 1000 bush orchard in Maine where I will retire and sell whatever fruit I grow to yuppies, locals, roadside, etc. I didn't bother with potatoes, as the whole north of Maine IS a potato. Same with blueberries; I put in 100 plants so folks won't drive off elsewhere to buy a couple of quarts, but blueberries are plentiful and cheap.
Specifically, you asked about Heirloom / Disease resistant apples. My Maine neighbors are already offering to buy this year's fruit, after the free samples I handed out. They MUST taste good. You can find a sour apple in Maine anywhere. Macs are abundant. These folks tried Pristine, William's Pride (beauty contest winner), and Zestar, and loved them all. I mean to say they walked up to the tree and ate them on the spot.
One man, the owner of a 5,000 tree orchard down in Turner Maine, told me 'I needed to have my head examined', after telling him of my plans back in 2003. I can understand where that remark came from, because he grows for tonnage, not so much for retail. But, he also made another comment; He said that his business lost a few bucks, or broke even, but, "I wouldn't have made a dime if it weren't for that place", pointing to the retail shop on premises. He has to compete with New York and Washington, New Zealand Monster Farms, too.
So, if all you want to do is roadside / farmers' market etc., go for it. If you have plans big enough to actually need a formal 'Business Plan', and a bank loan, I'd do some spying first.
Last year, we had a brief exchange on the board here about 'oddball' fruit popularity. We found that in some regions, people were very traditional in their buying habits....but.... in other regions, the exact opposite was true. So to answer your question, sort of, it depends on the market. Again; plant a few 'old reliables' so folks don't drive away in pursuit of MacIntosh. The name of the fruit is also very important. Nobody is going to buy a COOP-32 apple. Some folks even made up ficticious names of some fruits, and they sold better.
I think the guy at the Extension Office is mostly right, being that the area might be saturated in commercial berries. Here, in Massachusetts we have a whole bunch of Apple orchards, all clustered together in about 5 towns. They're all old and small. People make pilgrimages to these places, driving past supermarkets to buy fruit from local farmers. They want to see a farm, trees, people working; not a plastic bag of fruit going 'beep' over a laser scanner.
I am going to try. I might fail. I might do well.
There will be no regrets, either way.
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