Owners Bill & Judith Stone, and Paula Puntenney talk about their business.
How long have you been in business?
As a hobby 1950 to 1993 and as an incorporated business 1993 to present.
When and how did you get started?
The farm was purchased as a weekend getaway by Irving and Ethel Puntenney in 1950. There were a few apple trees in the yard and Irv with his daughters started planting an additional 200 trees (most of which were heirloom varieties) in an adjacent field.Apples were sold in bushels off of a farm wagon. Bill Stone (son-in-law.) decided to retire early and expanded the business in 1983.Asales area was added, and then refrigeration and apple cider followed. Aeppeltreow Winery joined us in 2001 and GlasAll Naturals cheese joined us in 2015, both located on site and run as separate entities.
What changes have you seen over the years open?
In the past, our customers were mainly local farmers and neighbors, who bought in bulk, and all transactions were made in cash. Now our customers are mainly small town and city dwellers looking for farm entertainment on fall weekends.About 60% of our present sales are now done on credit cards.
How many varieties of apples do you harvest every year?
We harvest over 150 apple varieties, about 10 pear varieties, and Russian quince.
What other products do you sell? In addition to Apples?
We sell fall add-on products, such as squash, pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, and other favorites, such as apple cider, apple cider donuts, honey, jellies and jams, baking mixes, cheese, and popcorn.
How many other locations do you sell your apples presently?
The Orchard sales area is open mid-August to Thanksgiving, Tuesdays through Sundays 9AM to 5 PM and we are closed on Mondays. We attend six off farm markets on weekends.
What do you love most about your industry?
We love sharing our beautiful rural western Kenosha County setting with customers and providing them with a relaxing buying experience plus a chance to learn a little bit or lots about the history and growing of apples if they are so inclined.
What are some of the common myths you come across in your business?
The public in general does not understand that essentially all fruits not just apples, are propagated by grafting, since their seeds will not bear true. And oh yes, apples must be refrigerated to maximize their quality and store-ability.
What message would you most like to share with people?
Fruit is not only good for you, but can be grown locally in a sustainable fashion.
What would you like people to know about your business?
People tend to romanticize the agricultural industry and frequently fail to understand the complexity and labor-intensive nature of growing and selling produce. Today about 2% of Americans are farmers and just a little over 100 years ago 90% were farmers. Scientific progress has dramatically changed agriculture from fewer smaller family farms, to much larger, corporate operations. This is largely because of the efficiencies of size, competition and government regulations.
What is the biggest compliment customers give you?
We hear frequently how customers appreciate us remaining in business. We are now selling to third generation buyers. Our treehouse is a favorite with kids, and everyone loves our fresh apple cider donuts and ultraviolet treated apple cider.
What are you most proud of?
We are grateful for our beautiful rural setting and are proud to operate an orchard business that provides a memorable positive experience to
our ever-expanding customer base.
How many employees and/or family work with you?
We have five family members, an orchard manager, a Business Manager and about 15 other seasonal employees.
Who or what can you credit your success?
Our loyal customers, and employees and the beautiful fruit that we raise each season, all should get a standing ovation.
Who is now mainly in charge of orchard operations?
Bill and Judith Stone, Paula Puntenney (the three owners), Jimmy Thelen (orchard manager), Melissa Brand (Business Manager), plus daughter Sarah Stone Waters (graphics) and son-in-law, Josh, who help on busy fall weekends.
1072 288thAvenue,Burlington, WI
Open Daily 9-5pm thru Mid-November.
This article is from the Wisconsin Country Life Fall 2023 Issue