Orchard caters to kids and families

Heather Smith Thomas/For the Capital Press Burton Briggs shows a cider press to a school group at the Candy Apple Orchard in Emmett, Idaho.

Carol and Burton Briggs bought their orchard in September 2009 and started doing U-pick the next month.

“It was a quick, short learning curve, that first year,” she said. “We’ve increased our yield every year since, except in 2013 when the late spring freeze cut everyone’s crop way back.

“Last year, however, we had the best year ever.”

The Emmett, Idaho, operation, which they call Candy Apple Orchards, was part of a larger orchard that was subdivided.

“We are nestled among other small orchards,” she said.

They offer demonstrations for school groups and others who are interested in how an orchard operates. She has a website for people who want directions, the hours the orchard is open and various events.

“We have an old cider press and my husband does a demo for school groups,” she said. “We give the kids pasteurized cider to taste. Last year we had 12 groups, about 265 people, mostly pre-school children. We also had groups of home-schooled children, and people from senior centers.”

The tours and field trips have been a good marketing tool.

“Parents come with one of their children for the school field trip and then come back on the weekend with the rest of the family,” Carol Briggs said.

The orchard opens the same weekend as the Emmett Harvest Festival and Street Fair, so a lot of people come at that time.

Their orchard is a team effort.

“Burton takes care of the trees and the property and I run the U-pick,” she said.

They have orchard buckets, and long-handled fruit pickers — so people can reach up into the trees.

“We don’t use ladders, so it’s safer for the public. Even little children can pick fruit high in the tree, and have a lot of fun using the pickers.”

They also have a little retail store where she sells apple butter, pumpkin butter and jams — and frozen take-and-bake apple pies that she makes.

“We planted pumpkins one year and did really well, and hope to have some available this year for people at the same time they come to pick apples,” she said.

They have picnic tables, and some folks just bring blankets and eat a picnic lunch on the lawn in the orchard. One family comes every year for a family reunion.

“This is a nice setting for people to get together,” she said. “Some groups come out for supper after school and bring a picnic dinner and pick apples.”

The orchard is not a money-making venture.

“It’s a break-even, give-back-to-the-community operation — something we enjoy doing. The trees were here when we bought our property, and we just tried to pick up where the former owner left off and continue creating a family environment.”

Carol and Burton are both retired.

“He has two daughters; one lives in Emmett and sometimes helps us. My mother likes to sit in front of our little store during the U-pick to greet people and give directions.”

It all adds to the friendly, informal atmosphere.

Candy Apple Orchard

Owners: Carol and Burton Briggs

Location: Emmett, Idaho

In business: Since 2009

Size: 1 acre, 100 apple trees — Red and Golden Delicious, Rome Beauties

Website: www.candyappleorchard.com

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