G-A students tour orchard to learn about apples

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Tawnya Tracey revealed the ‘trap door’ in a bag used in apple picking. Workers could open it while it was in the bin, to unload the apples without damaging them.

For probably the 35th year, second grade classes from the Greencastle-Antrim School District visited Tracey’s Orchard to learn about the food supply. The youngsters, teachers and chaperones were treated to a wagon ride in the fields, a tour of the production facility, and a glass of cider.

The excursion to 12483 Hollowell Church Road brought lessons to life, as the students found out about the origin of food that eventually came to their table.

“I think it’s important because a lot of kids just go to the grocery store,” said teacher Rachel Olson. “I want them to see how much work goes into the entire process.”

Ed and Tawnya Tracey volunteered their expertise for two hour sessions over four days to handle the ten classrooms at the primary school. Tawnya Tracey had a goal.

“If kids don’t take away anything else, I want them to understand they don’t grow apples at Sunnyway,” she said.

She noted that not as many people gardened as in the past, so children had no experience in growing food. They tended to love coming to the orchard each fall.

She explained to one group that the work at her family’s business was hard, and most Americans didn’t want to do the manual labor. Therefore, they hired people from other countries to help. The father of one student was an employee.

“Most people get paid by the hour,” Tracey said. “Our workers are paid by how many apples they pick.”

Each shoulder bag could hold 23 to 25 pounds of apples, and 50 bags were needed to fill a bin. The apples were separated by a sorting machine for size, and a person would then examine them for quality. As the apples rolled down a chute, Adam Elliott, 7, yelled, “This is like pinball!”

The children were absorbing the information.

Zarek Stoner, 7, discovered, “When you dig something with a shovel, you would rather use an earth driller. It’s takes less time.”

Taimur Rehman, 7, enjoyed the hayride. “We saw machines that cut the trees and trim and pick cherries and apples.”

The students agreed with Tracey that it was good to buy produce locally, as the food was fresher and tasted better.