The Orchard

The Minka Farm orchard produces a wide range of fruits.  Harvests vary from year to year depending on weather and insect pressure.  We never use man-made chemicals to control problems or pests and most years, we don’t spray anything at all. 

Below are some of the fruits you can find throughout the year in our orchard (the average expected harvest time is in parentheses) …

Minka Farm raises three varieties of blueberries: Climax, Primier, and Powder Blue.  Two ripen earlier and one later so we have a longer picking season.  We offer PYO Blueberries when these are available.  Rarely do we pick berries to sell by the pound.

We have 12 varieties of apples in the orchard.  Ripening times vary every year due to weather conditions, but the first varieties that are ready are usually Gala and Aunt Rachel.  The last is usually Arkansas Black.  In between, there are Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious, Virginia Gold, Stayman, Fuji and more.  We do not spray our trees, so we end up sharing some with the bugs and the birds.  We also have Cedar Rust from cedar trees outside of the orchard.  This can put spots on the apples, but can be scrubbed off or eaten – it’s safe for people, just doesn’t look pretty.  Apples usually overlap with blueberries, but near the end of the blueberry season.

We grow Keiffer pears, Asian pears, Nikiita and Potomac pears.  These need to get large on the tree but can then be picked before completely ripe.

… way down yonder in the pawpaw patch…

It’s not just a children’s song – pawpaws are real!  And very tasty!

Pawpaws are native to North America and prefer to grow where there is shade and moisture, places like river banks.  The wild ones get to be very tall so the fruit is well above the picking range.  When ripe, the pawpaws fall to the ground where wildlife, and people, can reach them.   In our orchard, especially near the beginning of the season, we still let the trees tell us when the pawpaws are ripe by letting them fall to the ground.  If picked too early, the pawpaw will not continue to ripen.  They are tender-skinned and show bruising quickly and easily but they are not compromised by the bruising. Pawpaws are a custard-type fruit with a soft, creamy texture. The taste is very hard to describe – somewhere between a banana, mango and strawberry.  The taste changes with the level of ripeness. Some people enjoy them best while they are still somewhat firm, right after they fall from the tree while others like to let them get very soft before eating them.  Pawpaws store well in the refrigerator and will continue to ripen, but slower than if set on the counter at room temperature.  To use pawpaw pulp for cooking, it’s best to let them get very soft, allowing the skin to turn almost black.  The pulp can be scooped out and frozen for later use.  The Kentucky State University pawpaw program has many recipes and tips for using pawpaws:

These delightful, unusual fruits start out neon green but then turn golden with reddish-brown splotches of color before turning completely reddish-brown.  They are best, in my opinion, when harvested with splotches of color.  They have a mildly sweet flavor and are very high in Vitamin C.  They can be dehydrated for long-term storage and are used dried in cooking Korean and Asian fare.

We have several varieties of golden and purple muscadine grapes.  We ignored them for a few years and they went wild.  We have cut them back severely this year and should get a decent crop that can actually be picked.

Large, orange and non-astringent.  These wonderful fruits can be eaten when still firm without making your mouth feel funny.