Betsy and Karl Schlegel never question the quality of the fruit that bears the K. Schlegel Fruit Farm name. “If it gets by Karl,” Betsy explains, “it must be pretty good!” Karl takes his job as farmer and chief of quality control very seriously: “Anyone can grow pretty fruit but it doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t taste good.” As lifetime farmers, it is clear that the Schlegels know what they are talking about – especially when it comes to fruit.
Between orchard, timber, and fields K. Schlegel Fruit Farm covers 75 acres. The orchard roster boasts about twenty-five acres in apple production (well over twenty-five varieties) in addition to several acres in peach, sweet cherry, apricot, pluot, aprium (a plum and apricot cross) production. The most popular apple varieties, according to the Schlegels, are Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Stamen Winesap, Empires and Romas. Like most farmers, they have their personal favorites: Fuji for eating, and Winesap for baking.
The Schlegels have been extremely committed to growing ecological fruit for many years. “We live on this farm. We want to be as safe and responsible as we can. That’s why we work with scientists to reduce our pesticide use as much as possible and still grow top quality fruit.” Karl and Betsy have some real numbers to put behind this philosophy. In 2008, the Schlegels decided to augment their insect monitoring efforts by using mating disruption to control insects on the entire orchard. In one year they were able to reduce their pesticide application by 80 percent.
The Schlegels divide the work of managing the farm with their four children, Keri, Kelsey, Kaleb, Kalan, and two full time staffers. They are clear on one thing: for this family farming is not just a business, for the Schlegels growing fruit is a passion: “We feel that this is something that we were called to do. We value our family, we love working outside, and we get joy out of selling fruit to our customers.”