Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Fruits of Our Labor



I’m a proud mom of a three year old son and an infant daughter. I’m also a proud third-generation member and owner of my family’s 500-acre fruit and vegetable farm, Hollabaugh Bros., Inc., located in upper Adams county in south-central Pennsylvania. The sheer nature of being a part of a family business intermingles my two worlds on an ongoing basis. But in the fall, my two pride and joy worlds really collide. I try my hardest to keep my head above water with the mountains of work at the farm while making time for every possible precious moment I can spend with my son, as the rapidity with which he is growing, learning, and changing hasn’t yet ceased to amaze me.

apples 1Interestingly, and not altogether surprisingly, these worlds often collide by way of apples. We go for a walk in the orchard, picking apples off the tree left behind by our pickers. We cook applesauce, peeling, chopping, and stirring the apples to make the perfect blend. We share a fresh-sliced apple at the dinner table. If living on an apple farm weren’t enough reason to cause these worlds to collide, the nature of the industry in this area certainly would be.

Pennsylvania, and specifically the south-mountain region of the state, is the 4th largest apple producer in the United States. Agriculture is one of the two largest industries in Adams County, where our farm is located, along with tourism.

In the fall, it’s hard to drive through our neck of the woods without seeing the apple industry at work: from apples being harvested off of trees by quick-moving hands, tractors moving bins in and out of the orchards, trucks transporting apples from field to factory, or tractor trailers hitting the highways, filled to the brim with fresh or processed apples to fill grocery store shelves.

apples 2In the fast-paced world in which we all live, it’s become far too easy to take it all for granted. To assume that the apples will always just magically appear on the grocery store shelves, or that the applesauce will just cook and package itself.

But to our great fortune, another collision has helped us all to take a step back to appreciate our dynamic industry. It’s called Agri-tourism.

A few short generations ago, it seemed that everyone was connected to a farm in some not-too-distant way. Today, farm and ranch families comprise just 2 percent of the US population. And we see evidence of that disconnect in our farm market every day. Brussels sprouts harvested on the stalk are purchased not for the nutritional value, but for the sheer novelty of how they’re grown.

Agri-tourism allows us to reconnect the farm to the consumer. We do it in a number of ways on our farm: farm tours, pick-your-own fruits, walking tours, CSA memberships, children’s events, and festivals. And others are doing it, too. The Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail offers dozens of farm markets, wineries, and breweries in the south-mountain region that folks can visit to experience a taste of agriculture. A local corn maze provides on-farm entertainment not unlike what you’d get at an amusement park, except with grass and corn instead of paved walkways and roller-coasters.

apples 3

And so, instead of sitting at my desk until dark, doing the work that never seems to stop piling up, I leave the office. I hold my son’s hand (I know all too well that in not too many years, it won’t be cool to hold my hand anymore), and we head out for a walk in the orchard, crunching on apples and marveling at the beauty of the season together. I highly recommend you do the same.

Photos courtesy of the Adams County Fruit Growers Association.

Note: Mark your calendar for the 60th Annual Apple Blossom Festival May 2-3 in Adams County, PA. The festival is located at the South Mountain Fairgrounds in the heart of Apple Country, USA, and is hosted by the Adams County Fruit Growers Association. For more information, visit http://www.appleblossomfestival.info

 

Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association Partners with JTHG on Living Legacy Tree Project



Secretary Haymore receives tree from Brent Hunsinger of VNLA.

Secretary Haymore receives tree from Brent Hunsinger of VNLA.

The Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association (VNLA) recognized members of the 2015 Virginia General Assembly, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and his entire cabinet with a donation of native trees to the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Living Legacy Tree Planting Project.  The trees will be dedicated at an April 20 ceremony at the Historic Montpelier Train Station, located on the grounds of James Madison’s Montpelier near Orange, Virginia, at 1:00 p.m.

Brad Copenhaver from Virginia Agribusiness Council, Brent Hunsinger of VNLA, and Delegate Ed Scott.

Brad Copenhaver from Virginia Agribusiness Council, Brent Hunsinger of VNLA, and Delegate Ed Scott.

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s Living Legacy Tree Planting Project is an effort to honor the 620,000 fallen soldiers of the Civil War by planting one tree for each who died during this country’s most defining moment.  In doing so, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s Living Legacy Tree Project will become a National Memorial for the Civil War Fallen.  VNLA members thought it fitting to honor Virginia’s legislators and staff for their careful decision-making on topics affecting Virginia residents and the state’s green industry with a donation that not only beautifies, but pays homage to the ultimate sacrifice made by thousands who came before them.

Brent Hunsinger of VNLA presents tree to Secretary Ward.

Brent Hunsinger of VNLA presents tree to Secretary Ward.

Honorees that will be attending the ceremony include Commonwealth of Virginia Senator Emmett Hanger Jr., Commonwealth of Virginia Delegate Edward T. Scott, Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore.  “The VNLA is comprised of hundreds of growers, garden centers and landscape professionals, all who want to show support and appreciation for the steadfast work of the General Assembly and staff who keep our state progressing forward,” VNLA President, Sonya Lepper Westervelt, said. “We view the General Assembly as Virginia’s ‘root system’ supporting the Commonwealth and her residents. Similar to the Living Legacy trees, the legislative seeds planted during the 2015 Regular Session will continue to grow in impact and allow future generations to thrive.”

Brent Hunsinger of VNLA presents tree to Senator Hanger.

Brent Hunsinger of VNLA presents tree to Senator Hanger.

Trees planted as part of the Living Legacy Project will eventually stretch along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, a 180-mile swath of land that runs from Gettysburg, PA to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA.  It was upon the battlefields within this region that many of the soldiers who fought and died over 150 years ago.  Upon completion, the Living Legacy Tree Project will create the first 180-mile planned landscape in the world.  For more information on the Living Legacy Project, visit www.hallowedgroundtrees.org.

Canal Quarters Lockhouse Allow Visitors to Spend the Night in History



Tucked along the C&O Canal are over twenty stone structures that pay testament to the canal era, when boat horns would sound and lock keepers would scamper from the beds to open the locks. Today, visitors are invited to stay in the lockhouses and experience the life of a lock keeper – although with no boats to lock through, guests can enjoy their days hiking or biking, and their nights by a campfire.

Lockhouse 6 is perched along Lock 6 in Brookmont, MD, at mile marker 5.4

Lockhouse 6 is perched along Lock 6 in Brookmont, MD, at mile marker 5.4

The Canal Quarters program, a partnership between the C&O Canal Trust and the C&O Canal National Historical Park, is an innovative, award-winning program that restored six lockhouses within the Park to provide overnight interpretive experiences for guests. Each has been furnished to depict and interpret a different time period from the 1830s to the 1950s, and a stay in all six lockhouses will allow visitors to trace the history of the Canal in an interactive way.

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Lockhouse 10, in Cabin John, MD, features a screened-in porch and is nestled in the trees above the canal and towpath.

Lockhouse 22 near Potomac reflects the 1830s-40s and tells of the engineering marvels that created the canal, locks, and aqueducts, while Lockhouse 28 at Point of Rocks relives the 1830s race to the west between the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad. Lockhouse 25 is nestled in the sleepy town of Edwards Ferry and interprets the movements of Union and Confederate troops across the Potomac River during the Civil War. All three of these lockhouses are “rustic” – with no electricity or running water, guests really have an authentic experience of stepping back in time and living without the amenities we are so accustomed to today.

The upper floor of Lockhouse 25 in Poolesville, MD showcases period beds and reproduction trundles.

Lockhouse 49 is located near Clear Spring and tells the story of the families and merchants who lived in the Four Locks community during the Canal’s heyday in the 1920s. This lockhouse offers electricity. Cabin John’s Lockhouse 10 houses antiques from the Civilian Conservation Corps, when men in that 1930s program lived in nearby camps and worked to preserve the canal, and Lockhouse 6 relates Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’s 184.5 mile hike of the entire canal in order to help preserve it in the 1950s. The two most modern lockhouses do feature electricity and running water. Of particular note are the antique stove and refrigerator from the 1930s in Lockhouse 10.

The 1930s Westinghouse stove and ice chest are the highlights of Lockhouse 10’s kitchen.

The 1930s Westinghouse stove and ice chest are the highlights of Lockhouse 10’s kitchen.

No matter which lockhouse visitors choose, their guest book comments tell of their wonderful adventures. Frequent are stories from children who start out their entry saying how much they were dreading being away from technology all weekend, and end with joyous accounts of hikes in the woods, the discovery of frogs, the family games of dominos and Lincoln Logs, and the enchantment of living in the forest, away from it all. Each lockhouse can sleep up to eight people, and all have been the site of numerous birthday and anniversary parties, holiday celebrations, family reunions – and even a few weddings!

A group of volunteers called our Quartermasters are an integral part of the program – they are the caretakers of the lockhouses, helping guests and doing maintenance as needed. It costs between $100-$150 a night to reserve a lockhouse, depending on which one you select. All proceeds from the program go right back into the continued preservation and maintenance of the lockhouses.

You can reserve your lockhouse stay by visiting the C&O Canal Trust’s website at www.canaltrust.org.