A few questions have come up over the weekend and we hope this message helps you understand why we operate the way we do!
We are a you-pick orchard unlike any other in the world. We have over 1,500 trees of over 500 varieties of fruit that are harvestable from July through early November. We average 3 trees of any particular variety. This means that we don't necessarily have a large volume of any one variety that is available to be picked at any one time. There may be times where several varieties are ready to be harvested at the same time. Other times, there may not be any fruit ready for picking.
We determine how many hours we are open based on the availability of the harvestable fruit. The more fruit, the longer we stay open and/or the more days we are able to offer picking. There have been times where we are open for just one hour or eight hours. Again, it all depends on how much fruit is available to pick. There are also times were we may plan on being open for 4 hours and the night before we are hit with a bad storm and horrible winds that will drop the ripe fruit. We may have to close unexpectedly or reduce the hours we had planned to be open because of the damage to our supply. We have also had all of our peaches consumed by a heard of deer the night before we planned to be open for a big peach weekend and had to unexpectedly close for the weekend as there was nothing to pick. This is a very difficult business to be in as we can control neither the supply or the demand. We manage it the best we can.
We post on our picking report to the right that our hours are what they are or until picked out. This is because we cannot control how many apples each visitor picks while on our property, nor can we make more fruit available for picking. We are at the beck and call of Mother Nature and the trees. As a result, we may have to close early because there is no more fruit to pick. Unlike a retail store that has stock in the back room, when a tree runs out of fruit, we cannot "restock the shelves." Nor can we offer a "raincheck" because that tree will not produce more fruit in the current season.
If we plan on being open certain hours, and we have to hang the closed sign and place the Picked Out sign, it is because the harvestable apples are running low as they would all be picked by the visitors on the property at that time. However, we will have a conversation with anyone who pulls into the driveway after those signs are placed until we were scheduled to close to either allow them to visit the property and see the animals or to give them directions to other area orchards. We will not turn anyone away without the information they needed to make their experience a pleasant one. Everyone is always pleased with our willingness to direct them to other places where they can experience apple picking with their family if there is no more fruit to pick here or our willingness to let them remain on our property to experience the land and the animals and the pond and the maze as long as they are here and to come back another time for the fruit.
The volume of people here on Saturday 09/18/10 was not typical. We have learned that we were featured in an article that ran in several publications in Lawrence and Shawnee and a television spot that ran over the weekend as well as at least 5 magazines that we were unaware of until our visitors shared this with us. Many publications and news organizations get their information from the internet and do not ask our permission prior to publishing. There is nothing we can do about this since it is public information. It certainly does add to the volume of visitors. If you wish to avoid this crowd, you may certainly make an appointment to pick with your family anytime there is availability of fruit. This is clearly stated at the beginning of the picking report to the right as well! We do our best to accommodate as many people's schedules as possible in addition to opening to the public who wish to come at the times we can open to the public.
If you wonder why we do things the way we do, please let us know and we will post the answer here!
Monday, September 6, 2010
If you are coming out to visit our orchard for the first time or just need a refresher, here are a few things you should know!
- Our picking guideline is NO FLAG, NO PICK. We will identify trees with fruit ready for picking by tying a ribbon flag to the end of a branch. Please do not pick fruit from any other trees even if it looks ripe.
- Picking 101 - the proper way to pick tree fruit is to twist gently and lift up - do not pull down on the fruit or you will damage the fruit and the tree.
- Many of our trees and plants are very young. To keep them safe and healthy so you can enjoy picking from them in the future, please do not touch them unless you have been taken there to pick.
- We take cash and checks payable to Wagon Wheel Orchard.
- There is only one entrance and exit to the orchard – this is the gravel drive located just to the south of the big Wagon Wheel Orchard sign. Please do not pull into any other gravel drives nearby as they are private property.
- Parking does not open until the orchard opens. Please do not park or stop your vehicle on the 2-lane county road in front of our orchard waiting for us to open. If you arrive early, we ask that you drive around the block until we open the lot.
- Park in front of the multi-colored flags in the gravel parking area first.
- Parking is limited so please park to allow as many vehicles in as possible.
- If the gravel parking area is full, you may park in the overflow grass lot designated by the multi-colored flags.
- The hay rack will be operating when we are properly staffed to take you to the fruit trees in the back, to tour the orchard, and to take you to the pond.
- There is no guarantee that we will be operating the hay rack at any given time.
- Please be prepared to walk to and from the back orchard (1/3 mile or about 7-10 minutes one way) if you don't want to wait. If you have children, we suggest you bring a wagon!
- Enjoy the gourd maze during your tour of the back orchard but please do not touch any plant growing at the base of the maze walls - these are the gourd plants that give the gourd maze its name.
- The Trading Post will be open with our famous slushies, honey straws, & seasonal produce.
- We have one porta-potty with hand sanitizer located in the front orchard by the parking.
- Equipment, implements and supplies may be laying about since we are a working farm. Please do not disturb.
- We do have neighbors and ask that you respect their privacy and property.
Enjoy watching the horses on the neighboring property. Please do not feed them. They do not belong to us and are not ours to feed.
- We have goats, chickens, ducks and catfish who all love to be fed...but please don't feed them apples!
We appreciate all of your continued support as we work to create a fun, family-friendly orchard!
Posted by Wagon Wheel Orchard at 4:18 PM
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Hey gang, if anyone ever wonders why you can't find any great pick-your-own places anymore here's a prime example. We had several essential machines stolen from our barn. These could have only been noticed by someone who had actually come out to see their location (and existence) close up. Stealing from a family that lets little children visit their farm every weekend is probably not the best move you could make Karma-wise.
Posted by Wagon Wheel Orchard at 8:58 PM