Orchard has survived
the decades since the 1800s
Reed continues to operate the business
with her son-in-law Thomas
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(October 2011) Reeds Orchard in Saluda
Township, Ind., has been in the same family for generations. So it is
only natural that the farm brings out a strong sense of tradition in
those who lovingly tend the acres of peach trees that dot the hill overlooking
the Ohio River.
Today, 87-year-old Margie Reed oversees the farm her husbands
grandfather, Bill Reed, founded back in the 1800s, along with her son-in-law,
Wes Thomas, who joined the operation in 1970. Now Thomas children,
Cory and Maggie Rose, are learning the intricacies of caring for the
trees and running the harvests.
And when one considers the quality of fruit necessary to sustain such
a legacy, perhaps it is only natural that the orchard has become a strong
family tradition among customers as well.
by Lela Bradshaw
Reed, 87, has continued
running the family orchard business
that her husbands grandfather
founded in the 1800s.
The farm is located on Hwy. 62, south of Hanover. Thomas
said that when people pull up to the farm during the July and August
harvest, it is not uncommon to have four generations of a family
get out of the same car a lot of people come for years and
While the farm has the consistency of generations of family ties, both
in ownership and customer base, the Reeds have been willing to adapt
to changing times. Reed reflects that Everythings changed
since she married Corbett Reed and first joined the farm.
When I came over here, they were pulling the sprayer with horses,
she recalls, It wasnt long before they were pulling it with
One change that proved very popular with customers was the Reeds
shift from hiring workers to pick the fruit to allowing buyers to come
and pick what they liked. After hearing complaints of bruised peaches
and finger marks on the fruit, the Reeds began opening the orchard to
those who wanted the chance to experience the harvest for themselves.
When we started the pick your own, it wasnt
the norm, Thomas explains. But the lure of coming out to the beautiful
orchard and selecting the perfect fruit quickly became part of the attraction
for customers who come from as far away as Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
Reed notes that the orchard gets many visitors who live farther north
as in their area the climate is starting to get a bit too cold to consistently
produce peaches. The farm has a loyal following and customers keep in
close touch with Reed as the fruit begins to ripen. As the lure of the
orchard is providing perfect, tree-ripened peaches, it is important
to show up at just the right time to get the best pick.
Reed says that one morning this past summer she went outside at the
farms 7 a.m. opening to find more than 70 cars lined up, with
people ready and waiting to take advantage of the short season.
Thomas notes that People really like the idea of buying a tree-ripened
peach. Reed points out that most of the peaches found in stores
have been picked before they are ripe in order to avoid spoiling. She
recalls a recent trip to the grocery where she picked up a beautiful
looking peach up off the shelf and thought, If I could paint a
picture of it.
However, the lovely fruit was also hard as a rock, she says
sadly. The true test of any peach must surely be how it tastes.
Reed and Thomas credit a combination of family nature and natural landscape
with the longstanding success of the orchard. The family brought a good
dose of stubbornness and determination to the hilltop farm and never
shied away from the hard work their chosen crop required.
Thomas explains that We feel like were in an ideal location.
He points out that the ground is really suitable for growing a
good peach with good, well-drained soil.
Both Reed and Thomas point to the river as one secret to the orchards
productivity the heat that rises off the water can make
the one or two degree difference between a harvest ruined by frozen
blossoms and a a full crop that survives the chill.
The combination of hard work behind the scenes and favorable ground
tricked some people into believing peaches were a simple crop. When
we first started doing the you pick, people thought there
just wasnt anything to it, Reed says. Customers began asking
to buy trees from the Reeds in hopes of recreating the magic in their
However, the aspiring growers soon learned that there was much more
to raising perfect peaches than watching the trees do all the work.
They got discouraged quickly, Reed recalls, when faced with
the reality of spraying the trees every 10 days from March to July to
keep the pests away.
They find out fast enough, she notes. She believes that
most people dont have the nerve to face the harsh
realities of growing. Too many things can threaten a crop a
sudden windstorm, hungry bugs, or just the endless supply of deer that
seem determined to get to the peaches before the people do.
Yet every summer the rewards come when the peaches begin to ripen. Even
after years of work raising the trees and picking the fruit, Thomas
still says, I never get tired of eating on them.
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