House of Cards

apple_7237 (2) (800x692)Brooke’s Bulletin

A monthly update from farmer Brooke about apple happenings, tractor talk, and the everyday encounters of managing an apple orchard.  

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The 2015 Class of Young Apple Leaders (Ben Gammie in the baby blue blazer and bow tie in the middle, Brooke Gammie to his left)

 

Thank goodness for Ben’s late night affair with episodes from  “House of Cards”, otherwise we wouldn’t have known our way around Capitol Hill last week.  I started collecting dollars for every time I heard someone say “House of Cards” during our visit and I’m pretty sure I picked up a bar tab by the end of  our trip.  The news release below gives a great overview of what the heck these two apple farmers were doing in blazers at our Nation’s Capitol.

USApple

Huron, Ohio – Ben and Brooke Gammie, ex-corporate Professional Engineers, now current third generation apple farmers from Quarry Hill Orchards (Erie County), were selected  by the U.S. Apple Association (USApple) for the 2015 Class of Young Apple Leaders to represent their state at the national level.        
 
The young leaders joined forces with apple leaders from coast-to-coast for USApple’s Capitol Hill Day, an annual event hosted by USApple. They brought a unified message to Capitol Hill; hot topics included: agricultural labor reform, full funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) to retain international trade, support of strong child nutrition re-authorization, improvement of procurement process to maintain the integrity of the fresh fruit & vegetable program, continuation of funding for USDA pesticide data program, and a “thank you” for passing the farm bill and support of Specialty Crop Research Initiatives (SCRI).  Gammies met with the offices of Senators Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R), as well as Representatives Jim Jordan (R-4th) and March Kaptur (D-9th).   
 
The apple industry is heavily dependent on migrant labor, H-2A, and H-2B workers to grow, harvest, pack and process apples and apple products. For a perishable crop like apples, a delay in the arrival of harvest workers can impact the quality and value of the apples. Growers also emphasized the economic impact they have on the local community and the jobs that harvest workers support. Securing a legal, stable and reliable workforce will continue to be USApple’s top legislative priority.
 
In its sixth year, USApple’s Young Apple Leaders Program mentors the next generation of American apple growers and leaders. The program provides orientation, understanding and encouragement on public policy issues affecting the apple business.  It is designed to foster fellowship and cooperative working relationships across U.S. apple growing regions through discussions about key apple industry issues, trends, research and other activities. “These young people will be the future decision-makers in their businesses, communities, and at USApple,” said USApple Chairman Mark Nicholson.
 
This year, 16 young growers were selected from across the country, representing seven states.  Ohio represents the smallest acreage in the community of growers across the country.  For example, the total amount of apple trees growing the state of Ohio is less than or equal to the apple trees within one township in Pennsylvania.  Ohio’s apple consumption is also greater than the amount of apples grown in-state.  So, make sure to reach for an Ohio apple while they’re still around.  

Reach for a Peach?

tractorBEN’S BULLETIN

November 2014

Impactful interactions, special stories, and memorable moments from Farmer Ben 

Still recovering from the economic woes of loosing the 2014 peach crop, Bill and Ben have been working diligently at planning a replacement peach block.  It should be noted that over one-third of our peach trees were lost to severe cold temperatures last winter.  Thankfully, farmers have short memories… we will be planting more peaches this spring!  Quarry Hill has occupied all the eligable well-drained ground at high elevation on their own property with other plantings.  So we reached out to one of the founding families of Berlin Heights, the Lowry’s, to partner on a new peach block. 

After a short deliberation, the family (Jim, Pie, Amy, Terri) decided it would be great to have peaches out their side yard.  And so a contract was signed sitting around the kitchen table at the Lowry place this past Monday.  Now this was quite an experience for Ben, having been a big-city land development engineer for the past decade.  Dialogue did not dwell on the particulars of contract law, but rather steered towards the way things used to be.  Such is business in a small town.  If there were ever defined a period of prosperity for the small Village of Berlin Heights, that is what Jim Lowry enjoyed reflecting on.  He recalls the town as a center for commerce and conversation. 

west main lse crossing postcard

berlin heights west street 1900As a boy, Jim noted Berlin Heights was comprised of 3 grocery stores, 2 barber shops, a hotel, countless bars, 2 tractor dealerships and about 3 times as much acreage in orchards as presently found.  Bill was quick to fall in step with stories of his youth.  It became clear to Ben that on several occasions Mr. Lowry had to reprimand Bill (known as Chip in his grade school days) for tormenting the Lowry chicken coop after school on his walk home.  One might say that the glory days of Berlin Heights are in the past… but we won’t. 

 It was a somber drive back to the farm in the truck for Ben and Bill.  Anticipating a new planting yet reflective… the last warm days of November will soon give way to winter’s chill.  Please note the southwest corner of Mason Road and Route 61 on your visit to the orchard next season.  There you will see the beginnings of our project. 

Welcome

apple_7237 (2) (800x692)BRooke’s bulletin

November 2014

A monthly update from farmer wife Brooke about apple happenings, tractor talk, and the everyday encounters of managing an apple orchard.

Thank you friends and customers for signing up to receive our monthly news, so a big “WELCOME” to my first edition!  With harvest wrapping up, we have all been able to catch our breath, and knock a few things off the to-do list…including getting this post up!  Thanks for your patience.    We would not be a business without the loyal support of our friends and customers, so thank you for being part of the Quarry Hill family.  The apple harvest has been bountiful and plentiful.  We are grateful.

Ben’s timesheet has been dwindling from 90 hours a week to 75.  It’s been absolutely wonderful for me to have him sit around our family dining table eating my food, and helping with the evening routine.  

The “seasonality” of a farming business is something that I am struggling with understanding.  After two seasons, I am testing my strengths and learning everyday.

I was fortunate to attend a workshop called “Running a Strong Family Business” at the COSE Small Business Conference – wow, amazing take-aways.  Did you know only 12% of family businesses make it through their 2nd generation?  We are in our 3rd generation and are faced daily with generational challenges.  We will rise to the occasion!

Ben and I will attend the Young Farmer’s Conference at Stone Barns this December, while also staying with my lifelong childhood friend, Stephie and her troop of 4 kiddos under the age of 5.  We are SO happy to be included and have so much to learn!Edible Ad

Launch an online e-commerce platform for selling and shipping our apples?  Check.  With friends and family across the United States (and Canada, Anne and Tom), we really wanted a way to share our harvest with everyone, local or not.  Thank you Mom, Suz, Ade, Bo, Dan, Jackie, and many others for your orders already!  We are still working out some kinks and logistics, but so far so good on the gift box front.  We’re having so much fun with this project I can hardly stand it!  Be looking for more products in this line very soon…up next?  An apple pie kit!