WHEELERSBURG, Ohio — After 60 years and three generations, the family-owned and-operated Fuhrmann Orchards has grown from a few apple trees to over 200 acres of locally grown produce.

“We grow 30 varieties of apples, over 10 varieties of peaches and nectarines, melons, pumpkins, fall squash, vegetables and more,” said Paul Fuhrmann, who now owns the business with his wife, Leanne, and their five children, Lora Lee, Abby, Melanie, Andrew and Jeremy.

The orchard is located on Hansgen Morgan Road in the Wheelersburg/Sciotoville area.

“We take great pride in growing some of the best-tasting, freshest locally grown fruits and vegetables in the Tri-State area,” Fuhrmann said. “We are passionate about the fruits and vegetables we grow because farming is our life and full-time job.”

Paul and Leanne are graduates of Purdue University and specialize in horticulture production and marketing and agriculture economics.

“Everything we sell has been grown on our orchard and it has all been hand-picked by us,” Leanne said. “We pick our produce at the peak of ripeness for the best taste and quality in every bite.”

The orchard celebrated its 60th anniversary with a customer appreciation day Oct. 13.

“We wanted to thank the community for their support and let them know how dedicated we are to serving them,” Paul said.

He said the event was also the third annual Fuhrmann Orchards Apple Fest.

“It was a one-day event with wagon tours into the orchard, apple variety tasting, caramel apples, pumpkins, a corn maze, pumpkin painting and more,” he said.

Paul said the family stresses the importance of supporting local farmers and growers in the Tri-State area.

“We want to get the word out about the locally grown produce that is just a short drive away for anyone in the Tri-State area,” he said. “We are probably one of the only orchards in the Tri-State area now. We supply local restaurants in Huntington, and our produce is available at The Wild Ramp.”

History

Paul Fuhrmann said his father and mother started the family orchard business in 1958.

“My dad, Karl ‘Pete’ Fuhrmann, was a baseball player for the Cleveland Indians’ farm team, and my mom, Susan, was a nurse,” he said. “He was a pitcher for the team, and he and my mom got married on the way to spring training in 1958. Dad’s shoulder went out, which ended his baseball career.”

He said at that time his grandparents owned a 40-acre farm with a farm house, so his parents came back to the Wheelersburg farm to live.

“There were a few apple trees and Dad didn’t have a job, so they started planting more trees and it was the start of Fuhrmann Orchards,” he said.

Fuhrmann said his brother, Karl “Pete” Fuhrmann IV, was the first in the second generation to come home to be involved in the family business.

“My brother went to Michigan State University to study horticulture and came back in 1981,” he said. “I came back in 1987 after studying agriculture economics at Purdue University.”

In 1990, his brother passed away.

“I had gotten married in 1990, so my wife, Leanne, and I ran the business,” Fuhrmann said. “Dad passed away in 1994 and Mom died in 2007.”

Farm to table

Paul Fuhrmann says the farm-to-table trend has helped the business as consumers, grocery stores and restaurants search for locally grown produce.

“There is no comparison between local produce and what some supermarket chains call ‘local’ produce,” he said. “If they can get it brought in within 24 hours by truck, that is what they consider local.”

Paul says people who want really fresh produce should insist on buying local produce.

“The truth is the flavor is better if it is grown locally and doesn’t have to be shipped,” he said.

From June through September, the Fuhrmann family sells their produce at the farmers markets in Portsmouth every Tuesday, at the Boyd County, Kentucky, growers-only market on Thursday afternoons at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, and at the Kyova Mall in Cannonsburg, Kentucky, on Saturday mornings.

The family starts harvesting apples in August and doesn’t stop until the end of October.

“We usually have apples until Christmas, and we close down the retail side of the business in the winter,” he said. “We also do pruning of the trees and any needed repairs during that time. In the springtime we start to go back into our greenhouses, getting ready for all our vegetables.”

During the summer Fuhrmann Orchards sells just about every vegetable that can be grown.

“We grow about 15 different varieties of apples on 65 acres,” Paul said. “We also raise about 10 acres of wonderful peaches and nectarines. Our farm is rounded out with about 15 acres of vegetables including great sweet corn, tender beans, tomatoes, peppers, and fall specialty pumpkins and gourds.”

For more information about Fuhrmann Orchards, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fuhrmannorchards/.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

Source: The Associated Press