The apple orchard is finally open! Quite a bit of work remains, but we are excited to be actually doing the thing we started dreaming about almost 20 years ago! Not that we haven’t been having fun along the way…
Our story has been one big adventure. We are originally from Maryland and Chris has always had an interest in farming, so in 1998 I agreed to give it a try even though I’d hardly done a thing all my life that involved getting dirty or working hard. I expected that Chris would do the farm thing and I would do the “that’s nice dear” thing. Little did I know that 17 years later, our entire family would love the farm equally and we would be equally involved in all the work.
When we came to Northwest Iowa, we had only visited once for an interview (in January!) and we didn’t know a soul here. It was a job opportunity in a place where land prices were considerably lower than those in Maryland, so we jumped in with both feet. We learned quickly that things were different in the Midwest. We bought our 160-acre farm at an auction, something we had never been to before. We moved our house 17 miles from Spirit Lake, also something that was unheard of on the East coast. We settled onto the farm and bought 2 cows and some chickens. The cows’ first day was an adventure–as soon as they were unloaded from the trailer they broke through the fence and took off to explore their new territory. Our children have grown up on the farm. They joined 4H, where they showed sheep, goats, chickens, horses and many other projects. We’ve all gotten quite a lot better working with livestock, equipment, and the land. Now they are growing up and the orchard is Chris's and my "next big thing."
In 2011 we gathered up our courage and made the decision to plant an apple orchard. It had always been our dream to have a farm that was a destination for families who wanted to experience something different. We kept it a secret from everyone for quite a while as we selected our site and prepared the soil. It was 2 years later that we planted 1,000 trees on the north side of the farm and finally shared with our friends and neighbors what we were planning. 2017 has been a year of getting the place ready for visitors. We have changed our name from the old Mulberry Grove Family Farm, created a new logo, and installed new signs. We put in a new driveway to the west of the farm, electric and water lines, and a building that will serve as our store. A corn maze, hay bales to climb and hay rides will add to the fun of picking delicious apples. We have lots of dreams for our orchard and we look forward to sharing them with you!