Winter on the Farm

February 27, 2014

Winter is our quiet time here at Rulfs Orchard, when we can reflect on the previous season and start planning for the year ahead. In the retail store, which is open year round, Bob is typically found sitting in front of the wood stove chatting with our customers as they pick up fresh donuts and cider. We also continue to wholesale during the winter, delivering to grocery stores and other businesses in the area.

A lot of our time is spent on the farm from April through November. We cherish these few winter months to spend some time with family and friends and catch up on all those projects we have been putting off at home.

The kitchen never closes, so Patti is still in daily, making fresh pies and doughnuts for her loyal customers. She hand rolled over 10,000 pies during 2013, quite the accomplishment.

On the farm, Linda (Produce Manager) and Richard (Field Manager) have put in their flower orders and planning for the 2014 greenhouse season. At the beginning of March, they will start planting flowers, seed by seed, by hand. Linda says, “At this time, our goal is to organize and clean our greenhouses as sanitation in the greenhouses is very important. To disinfect and have a clean greenhouse is important to the plants for disease control. It also gives us a feeling of well-being to enter a clean, organized house. Happy Planting!”

Richard and Bob have been ordering seeds and plants and determining the field layout for the year. They have to determine field rotation and what products to plant more or less of based off the results of last year. Even though we aren’t harvesting crops, work still needs to be done in the fields and in the Orchard to prepare for the season ahead. In the apple orchard, it is important to prune the trees. Here is what our field manager had to say about pruning: “We prune to give trees proper shape and form. Trees that are pruned properly will produce high quality fruit. The objective is to have a strong tree framework that will support fruit production. Another goal is to remove any dead, diseased, or broken limbs. When pruning, we open up the tree canopy to allow more sunlight in which encourages flower bud development and good fruit set, for a high quality. Pruning also helps air movement within the trees which helps dry the trees out. This will minimize disease pressure and helps pesticide penetration. For me, a well pruned tree is pleasing to look at. We prune in the winter because this is when we have the most time to accomplish the task. After pruning, we will start to grind the brush up on the Orchard floor.”

It seems far off, but we have been planning our Easter Egg Hunt, the Strawberry Festival and planning for our 2014 corn maze theme. It has been a long winter in the North Country, but today, as the temps reached over 30 degrees and the sun was shining, there was an excitement in the air. Spring is on its way!

Author:
Shannon Rulfs

My name is Shannon Rulfs, and my family owns Rulfs Orchard.  In 1952, more than 60 years ago, my grandfather, Bob, moved to Peru with the dream of having a dairy farm.  The dairy farm Bob purchased came with apple trees on the property, which he learned to care for with some help from family and community members.  They started to sell apples on the front lawn, and the business evolved from there. 

In the 1980s, Bob sold the dairy business to his son so he could focus on expanding the Orchard.  Today at Rulfs Orchard, we have our year-round retail store, wholesale department and bakery, as well as our seasonal cider mill, greenhouses, U-Pick berries, apples and pumpkins and a corn maze.  Our farm operates on just under 200 acres of land, and we employ more than 40 people during our busy season.

I spent my high school and college years helping my Aunt Patti in the Rulfs Orchard Bakery.  After college, I worked as an auditor in Albany and New York City, and then moved back to the North Country in 2007.  Upon returning to the family business, I wasn’t sure how permanent a career move it would be, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else.  Currently, most of my time is spent in the office, fulfilling my position as Business Manager for both Rulfs Orchard and Apple Blossom Florist, which Rulfs purchased in 2011.  I also enjoy working in our retail store, at farmer’s markets and at various outside events.

I often reflect on how much we have expanded on Bob’s original vision and feel fortunate to be part of the network of family, friends, employees and community members that continue to help Rulfs Orchard achieve success.  All of us at Rulfs are looking forward to an exciting future of continued growth and to being part of the wonderful Peru community for the next 60 years – and beyond.

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A Division of the North Country Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 310 |  7061 Route 9 | Plattsburgh, NY 12901 USA
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