What Do Farmers Do in Winter?

What do farmers do in winter? We’re often asked this question. While work does slow down some, here at Weaver’s Orchard there is never a lack of jobs to be done.

Tackling Projects on the Home Front

Winter is a time when we often tackle repairs to buildings and equipment that had to be put on hold during our busy times. Not only that, there are acres and acres of trees waiting to be pruned before bloom. There are old trees that need to be removed and fields to prepare for new trees. Our irrigation system constantly needs repairs and updating to make it as efficient as possible come growing time. The list of things to be done is endless.

Personally, our family is currently in the throes of renovating our basement with the help of all our four children—with so many hands in the pot, we’re not sure it’s getting done by spring!

Yes, we often try to sneak our family of four children away on a vacation, usually using up as many vacation days as our kids’ school will allow us. But so much more happens in winter that some of our readers might be interested to know about.

Improving our Recipes

One recent project being tackled at our market has been improving our applesauce recipe. While our “old recipe” was “decent,” our family and some of our customers found it a little “lacking.” A few weeks ago Justin brought home no less than 7 samples of applesauce, made from different varieties of apples in our test kitchen, for our family to sample. Our kids were over the moon– they liked them all. The main taste testers in our market had a more selective palate, however. So be sure to stay tuned– we’ll be sure to announce when our new improved recipe hits the shelves—you’ll have to try it and see if your taste buds agree!

Gathering and Collaborating On Information

Part of the Weaver family heritage is that we should never stop growing. We are a family of passionate learners and researchers. If there is a good way to do something, “surely there must be a better, more sustainable method out there!”

We also love to travel. Winter is a perfect time for our family to blend these to passions and pursue new areas of research that spur us on to grow and produce fruit in the most delicious methods possible.

As growers, Ed and Justin Weaver, my father-in-law and husband, never stop learning and researching new ways to manage and grow our farm.

Justin and I have visited many farms and learned so much from so many families of growers in our region. These opportunities provided for us through Penn State’s Young Grower Alliance to take these trips have been invaluable.

Another notable event we were privileged to experience took place during the winter of 2011, when Justin and I had a tremendous opportunity to visit orchards in Washington state, with the International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA). Justin learned several growing techniques and pruning practices we implement here on our farm today.

This year my in-laws Ed and Anne Weaver will be taking part in another tour sponsored by IFTA to Washington State as well. These tours provide the growers here at Weaver’s with a wealth of information which help us continually improve our Orchard. In the past Ed and Anne have participated in IFTA tours to Michigan and Massachusetts, as well as agro touring in England, New Zealand and Chile.

It’s quite stimulating to collect a group of fruit growers (young and not so young) around a tree and give them all an opportunity to give their two cents on how it should be grown. There have been times at growers meetings where this farmer’s wife has gotten tired of the banter gone for a walk, returned, and discovered, “Oh my goodness– they’re still discussing that same tree!” However, this giving and taking of ideas is what creates the beautiful agriculture industry we posses here in Pennsylvania.

Annually, we send representatives from our family and Weavers Orchard Market family to Hershey, PA to participate in the Mid-Atlantic Vegetable and Fruit Convention. This convention holds meetings and seminars covering all topics from marketing to all aspects of growing fruit and vegetables in the Mid-Atlantic region of our country. We also try to send a representative from our orchard to the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association (NAFDMA).

These wide and varied gatherings of growers are priceless as a way for growers to support each other and gain new ideas that make Pennsylvania agriculture the most innovative and sustainable industry it can be.

As passionate as we are about gaining knowledge, we are also dedicated to sharing our knowledge with other growers. We are blessed with an agriculture system in our state and region where growers and other agriculture professionals are ready and willing to collaborate and share what is being learned on their orchards and farms with other growers. Justin and Ed have participated in multiple growers’ panels and seminars where they have shared our experiences at our orchard to help other growers improve their farms. This fluid sharing of knowledge creates an incredible viable and thriving industry.

Weaver’s Orchard could not be what it is on its own without all the input and knowledge the Weaver Family and orchard employee family have gained through the vast variety of interaction with growers, university professors and other agriculture specialists we’ve interacted with through experiences and knowledge we’ve complied country wide and worldwide. We are passionate about our fruit and we hope you experience the difference with every bite of Weaver’s Orchard fruit.

Ever wonder what farmers do while the ground is frozen and the crops aren't ripe?