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Countryside and Apple Hill Orchards

Childhood Memory Becomes Family Legacy
Family now operates two fruit orchards

A father’s dream of owning an orchard led his family to new careers operating two thriving Indiana fruit-based businesses.

An accomplished attorney, the late Joe Black fondly remembered planting apple trees as a child with his grandmother. Their shared love of fruit trees stuck with him. For years he dreamed of owning an orchard.

Years ago, Black and his wife, Jane, planted the seeds for the family’s agricultural business, purchasing land that would become Apple Hill Orchard in 2000 and an established Evansville orchard in 2013.

“This was Joe’s dream,” Jane says of Black, who passed away in 2021.

To make the dream a reality, both of Joe and Jane’s grown children, and their spouses, left thriving careers to join their parents in the agricultural venture.

Apple Hill Orchard near Bruceville, Indiana, opened to the public in 2003. The family assumed management of Countryside Orchard near Evansville, Indiana, in 2015.

Son Brad and his wife, Karen, operate Apple Hill Orchard. They left careers in the music and culinary arts businesses to join the family farming operation. Mom Jane also assists with the business by helping with bookkeeping, peeling peaches, and completing customer sales.

Apple Hill Orchard includes a large retail farm store with homemade jams and jellies, caramel apples, bakery items, cider room and rental banquet hall. Depending on the season, visitors can choose between fresh peaches, nectarines, apples and plums. The farm also offers U-pick peaches and has dozens of apple varieties available.

“Our cider has received multiple awards for the best cider in Indiana,” says Karen. “Our cider slushies and freshly baked pies also are big sellers.”

Among the apple varieties is GoldRush, developed by scientists at Purdue University. The apple is tart with a thicker skin and almost a pear-like texture.

“It’s my favorite variety of apple. It’s an apple that gets even tastier with refrigeration and storage,” Karen says. “It one of those apples you won’t find many other places, but it’s an excellent apple.”

Daughter Kristi Schulz and her husband, Tim, operate Countryside Orchard. Before joining the family business, Kristi was a high school science teacher and Tim worked as an IT professional in the business sector.

Countryside Orchard has more of a rustic feel than its Bruceville counterpart with a farm stand, homemade jams and jellies, and in-season peaches, nectarines, apples, sweet cherries, strawberries, and pumpkins.

They strive to offer U-pick opportunities during each fruit season, and the farm sells fruit at local farmers markets. In 2020, in partnership with Indiana Grown, Countryside expanded their business by launching "Peach Express", delivering 10-pound, pre-sold boxes of peaches to sites across Indiana.

“Consumers are becoming more cognizant of how far their food travels to get to them. Was it shipped from another country or even trucked for thousands of miles? Those travel costs can create a large carbon footprint, and not all countries have the same strict food safety regulations that we abide by,” Kristi says. “Local is better.”

Both orchards have all local employees, including many family members. All the farm’s fruit is hand-picked with trimming, pruning and other orchard maintenance done by hand.

“We let it, our fruit ripen on the tree,” Kristi says. “It’s not always perfect in appearance, but sometimes imperfect is the best-tasting fruit.”

To learn more, or to schedule a school tour or field trip, visit the Facebook pages of Countryside Orchard and Apple Hill Orchard.

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