Orchard tour shows kids where fruit comes from

John Irwin
Tawnya Tracey of Tracey's Orchard showed Greencastle-Antrim second-graders how to use an apple-picking basket during their tour on Oct. 4. JOHN IRWIN/ ECHO PILOT

Students from the Greencastle-Antrim School District got a first-hand look last Thursday morning on exactly how far the apple falls from the tree.

The field trip to Tracey's Orchard for the second-grade students included demonstrations on the planting, pruning, spraying, harvesting and processing aspects of owning an orchard.

Local residents will get their a chance to learn about apples from members of the Tracey family during the 31st annual Apple Festival and Antique Engine Display on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tayamentasachta, the Greencastle-Antrim School District's environmental center.

Many locally grown varieties of apples and apple products from Tracey's Orchard will be on display at the festival and the Traceys will be on hand to answer questions.

Orchard education

Tracey’s Orchard sits along Hollowell Church Road and is a nearly 200-acre piece of paradise for all things fruit.

"We grow sweet cherries, sour cherries, apricots, plumbs, nectarines, peaches, pears, apples and grapes here," explained Tawnya Tracey, who estimates that the orchard is home to 14,000 to 15,000 trees.

For the students, the field trip played a pivotal role in realizing that the fruit they eat in their school lunches doesn’t grow in the supermarket.

“I think it’s good to come out here to the orchard because this is a great part of the community in Greencastle,” teacher Jen Steck explained. “For a lot of the students, this is their first experience being around a farm and learning about agriculture. It’s important that they realize that these great products are from here locally. I think from this, that they have a better appreciation for everything.”

“I learned a lot today,” said Charlotte Wagner, 7, whose favorite part of the tour was sampling fresh apple cider. “I learned that you have to spray the apples to keep the bugs away from them.”

For the Traceys, sharing stories of their livelihood with the students is more than just a hobby — it’s about educating the next generation about agriculture.

“I love children, that’s the first thing. To get into their minds when they are so young how things are done, that’s what keeps us going. These are our future produce generations of purchasers,” said Tracey. “I always tell people if they take one thing away from here, just know that the fruit doesn’t grow in the grocery stores."

Tracey's Orchard is a member of the Knouse Foods co-op in Chambersburg. Nearly 70 percent of the produce goes to make products such as apple sauce, pie filling and apple juice, while fresh fruit is sold to local markets as well as at a market on the property.

Apple Festival 

The 31st annual Apple Festival and Antique Engine Display will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tayamentasachta, the Greencastle-Antrim School District's environmental center.

The festival will include anything dealing with apples, from foods and crafts to displays and demonstrations.

The apple dumpling gang will be making over 1,000 apple dumplings in the farmhouse kitchen. The cost of an apple dumpling is $4.

An exhibit of antique engines and farm equipment by the Cumberland Valley Antique Engine and Machinery Association will also be featured. The Lindsay family’s team of Belgian horses will be there providing wagon rides along the trails of Tayamentasachta, weather permitting.

In addition to the local artisan and craft demonstrators and displays, activities for families will be offered by the Greencastle-Antrim High School's Art Club, such as scarecrow making, face painting, and pumpkin decorating.

A time-traveling minstrel will entertain with historical stories, music and songs.

A benefit chicken barbecue by Michael’s BBQ will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include half a barbecued chicken, cabbage slaw, baked potato, applesauce (complements of Knouse Foods), roll, cupcake and apple cider. Advance chicken barbecue tickets are $8 and can be purchased in any of the Greencastle-Antrim schools. Tickets will also be sold the day of the festival for $9.

The festival is hosted by the Environmental Education Advisory Committee with the purpose to educate the community about apples and the importance of the environment in everyday life.

There is no admission fee. Proceeds from the apple dumpling and chicken barbecue sales will benefit the Environmental Education Advisory Committee and will be used to support educational programs offered at Tayamentasachta.