5TH Generation Farmer Brings Organic Apples to the Market
“It’s been 17 years of coming to the farmers markets. We were one of the original 13 colonies” says Dwight English of English Family Apple Farms. Dwight comes from a long lineage of apple farmers. He, along with his brothers, grew up on an apple orchard in Farmington, New Mexico where his Great, Great Grandfather, Paul B. English owned and operated an orchard since the 1940s. In 1980, Dwight and his wife, Carla, moved the family to Willcox, Arizona to 10 acres of existing orchard that was originally planted in 1965, starting English Family Fruit Farms. Dwight and Carla have been coming to the Sunday market for years, they travel from Willcox to Tucson almost every Sunday morning when the fruit on the trees begins to ripen.
It’s a critical time between late winter and early spring as the early morning temperatures can fluctuate to below freezing and if a late frost does happen, it could be detrimental to the fruit crop. Many a Sunday Dwight and his family will head into Tucson with their fruit, having battled the freezing temperatures all night long. Sometimes, we have caught him napping in the truck while Carla and his son Paul handle the market sales.
In 1988, English Family Farms received their USDA organic certification making all of English Family Farms fruit USDA certified organic. When we visited the farm several years ago, Dwight was out in the fields grafting trees, ensuring his trees remain wholesome and hearty come springtime. Almost 60% of the English Apples are shipped across the country to various organic grocers. In 2006, English Fruit Farm expanded into cider production with the purchase of a cider plant. Over 7,000 gallons of cider is ‘pressed’ in the fall and sold under the name, “English Brothers Cider.”
As you peruse the aisles of the Farmers Market Pavilion at Rillito Park, stop by the tasting table at English Family Farms and you will see they are truly a farming family with their grandkids in tow. In 2008, at the age of 2, Nathan Leroy English became the 5th generation orchardist in the English Family. If you ask Paul about the future, he says, “English Family Orchards plans on selling their fruit at the market as long as possible!” Who knows, perhaps one day Nathan will be selling English Family apples at an Heirloom Farmers Market!
Photo Credits: ©2015 Pedrography – Pedro Romano