SOLON, Iowa — Paul Rasch and Sara Goering, of Wilson’s Orchard, will host a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day exploring orchard production on Thursday, July 11, from 2-5 p.m., near Solon (1998 Poplar Ave. NE, about 5 miles southwest of town).
The event – “Making an Orchard Work in Iowa” – is free to attend and will include light refreshments following the program. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union and ISU Extension and Outreach Farm, Food and Enterprise Development Program.
Paul and Sarah took ownership of Wilson’s Orchard north of Iowa City in 2009. The orchard was established in 1982 and operates as a U-pick with over 120 varieties to choose from, as well as a bakery and a retail store. In 2017, Paul and Sara added Rapid Creek Cidery, an event center and farm-to-table restaurant.
Paul began crafting hard cider in September 2015 and produces seven styles of hard cider that can be found across the state. In 2016, he and Sara planted 5 acres of cider-specific apple varieties at their second orchard site.
During the field day, Paul will start by discussing his approach to managing these unique varieties in a dwarf system – including the importance of managing to prevent fire blight.
The group will then caravan to the main orchard location, where Paul will lead an orchard walk and further discuss varieties, orchard care and managing a U-pick operation. The event will conclude with a tour of the cidery and event center, where guests will have a chance to enjoy samples.
Topics covered will include cider-specific apple variety production; dwarfing rootstocks; equipment for orchard management; U-pick with dwarf and semi-dwarf trees; on-farm sales; and hard cider production.
Directions to the field day are available on Practical Farmers’ website.
This event is part of Practical Farmers’ main 2019 field day season, which includes 40 events across Iowa, and the region, on topics spanning the agricultural spectrum. The field days are meant to help connect farmers with their peers for networking and farmer-to-farmer learning.
Practical Farmers’ 2019 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Bio Till; Center for Rural Affairs; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers Inc.; H.A. Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture – Iowa State University; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University; Iowa State Department of Agronomy; La Crosse Seed; Man@Machine; MOSA Certified Organic; Niman Ranch; PepsiCo; Pipeline Foods; Premier 1 Supplies; River Valley Cooperative; Scoular; Sunderman Farm Management; Sunrise Foods International; Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education; Trees Forever; Unilever; Welter Seed & Honey Company.
— Practical Farmers of Iowa
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