I recently traded the concrete jungle of Philadelphia’s inner city for the rolling fields and farm houses of Adams County, PA, to check in with two family farms that provide fruit for The FruitGuys throughout the year.
I began at Three Springs Fruit Farm and met with Ben Wenk, a 7th-generation fruit grower on his family’s farm. Ben showed me around the farm and talked about the farm’s efforts to use as few chemicals as possible by employing techniques of integrated pest management, including constructing shelters around the farm for predatory birds and hanging pheromone-based mating-disruption ties on trees to prevent the mating and hatching of insect pests.
Ben told me that they had completed their annual pruning of more than 120,000 fruit trees on their 450 acres of orchards. Three Springs has also planted more than 2,000 new trees, including apricot, cherry, apple, and plumcot. Ben showed me some cherry blossoms that did not fare well during the brutally cold winter, but noted that “while our tree fruits sustained some freeze-related losses, we’ve avoided any whole-crop catastrophes. We’re anticipating a large harvest of tree fruit starting – a little later than some years – in early July.”
Ben and I also visited the United States’ largest fruit packing house on the East Coast, Rice Fruit Company, a massive operation where farm apples get packed up for market.
My next stop was the beautiful Beechwood Orchards, where I met with grower and wholesaler Melissa Allen, who helps run this fifth-generation family farm. We toured Beechwood’s fruit fields and I got to see the farm’s commitment to expansion firsthand – the fields were filled with rows and rows of tiny, newly planted peach trees. These should begin producing succulent fruit in just a few years. I assured them that The FruitGuys would be first in line for the impending summer peach, plum, and apple crops coming off the trees. David Garretson, the owner and lead grower of Beechwood Orchards, is happy to be a supplier for The FruitGuys, sharing that, of the fruit distribution companies he works with, our name and reputation for good works are a plus: “You guys are one of the ones I’m most proud of.”
Alexander Scaletta is the buying and receiving supervisor for The FruitGuys' East Coast facility in Philadelphia. He has two children and loves target shooting and cooking. He has a degree in film from Purdue University.