The Gammie family roots began in Aberdeen, Scotland. William Gladstone was one of four children (Alex, Margaret, and Jane who died as an infant) who immigrated as youngsters to America in the first part of the twentieth century.
In 1909, the family established a home in South Lorain, Ohio. As schoolboys, the Gammie brothers (William Gladstone and Alex) found their enthusiasm for farming in the vegetable fields of Avon, Ohio. William G. attended Ohio State University to study horticulture, and after his graduation he worked a few years managing a Firestone Rubber Plant in Liberia, Africa before returning to the states to farm.
The farm property as it sits today was purchased by the Gammie brothers in 1931 on a career gamble that took them away from the Lorain steel mills. The brothers established 200 acres on two separate farms in Berlin Heights, and worked 6am to 6pm daily during the harvest season Their cash crops were tomatoes and cabbage along with an assortment of other vegetables. As an afterthought, two acres of Red Delicious and McIntosh apples were planted on standard root stock (big trees 20’ tall); they discovered that the rocky, well-drained soils and elevation of the property were well suited to fruit crops. The brothers farmed together for 25 years, through the usual squabbles in a family operation. William provided the intellectual fortitude while Alex kept the crew of Jamaican immigrants on task. The farm was doing well.
William Gladstone married a home economics teacher, Margaret Dinan, in 1942. The 2nd generation of the Gammie family was established with the arrival of their two children, William Dinan and Judith. The brothers continued to sell their assortment of produce, mainly as a wholesale commodity at the food terminals in downtown Cleveland… and hours ride from the farm in an old wood-sided 1-ton Ford delivery truck. William Gladstone fell to cancer in 1964, leaving behind his wife and their two young children. Brother Alex scaled back the operations and retreated to the farm across town while Margaret continued to manage the property and run the household.
Life took young William Dinan (Bill….Chip… Dad) away from the farm for a time. He attended THE Ohio State University like his father, majoring in political science with aspirations of law. As fate would have it, the Vietnam War was gaining momentum in the fight against the communist block. There were 100,000 American boys in theater in 1971 when Bill received his draft number… 7. After 19 months of active duty, Bill returned to Ohio State for a teaching certificate and found employment shortly thereafter teaching history at Margaretta High School. With a thick mustache and a shiny new Triumph TR6 courtesy of the U.S. Army PX catalogue, Bill soon won the heart of a young home economics teacher, Jacque Arra.
The two wed in the fall of 1975 (ironic because no true apple farmer would have set that wedding date when there are apples to be harvested). As students watched this romance blossom, Bill’s interest in teaching waned. The farm leases established by his mother Margaret were up for renewal and Bill decided to follow his other love… farming. There were several years when he juggled both careers. Bill’s passion eventually drove him to leave teaching.
Margaret’s brother, Leonard H. Dinan, proved essential to the success of the farm at this time. A bachelor farmer and longshoreman hardened by depression-era thinking, Leonard instilled in Bill the ideal of frugality coupled with long hours and attentiveness to each patron willing to make the drive out to our crossroads. To this day, Leonard’s wisdoms find their place in our casual conversation as a reminder of the truths of farming.
The 3rd Generation of the Gammie family began with the arrival of Benjamin Dinan in 1979. This same year the farm was just getting reestablished under the name Quarry Hill Orchards. Ben’s Grandmother, Margaret, had a great influence on this name, and the logo as it appears today; she wanted to pay homage to the original use for this land – three functioning stone quarries that provided sandstone blocks to nearby developments. In the summer of 1982, Adrianne was born and as fate would have it, she was the only peached picked that season. A late frost eliminated the peach crop that year. Bill settled in to operations at the farm, planting new dwarf trees to replace those older trees planted by his father, while Ben and Adrianne grew out of diapers and into young adulthood side by side with the farm as their playground.
Today…..you will see three Generations of Gammies running around the orchard market (Bill, Ben, and Henry). The farm has now eclipsed a few boys out picking fruit or pruning trees. To run a successful orchard operation in this day-and-age is truly a team sport. Each member of the Gammie family plays an important role in addition to our capable staff. New technologies and regulations constantly keep us on our toes. There is no off-season. There is never a day without something that must be done. Yet we remain enthusiastic and plan for the future. Ben talks of expanding the retail operation. Bill talks of scaling back acreage as plantings become more efficient.
THE HISTORIC STONE HOUSE
A future project and big dream for the new generation of farmers: To restore and call home this historic treasure. A big project on our “long term to-do list”. We’re always looking for resources and funding opportunities to help this effort. Please reach out if you have any – we will be grateful.
The Historic Stone House
Berlin Heights 1835 house listed on National Register