Monthly Archive:: August 2016

Apples in Charlottesville Virginia

Buying an Apple OrchardIt’s been a summer for the books, but as fall approaches, we’re looking forward to some of the season’s finer qualities. Autumn in central Virginia is glorious, all breezy hikes, turning leaves, and a general sense of idyllic serenity….and also, apples. Carter Mountain Orchard is one of the top destinations during this time of year, whether you’re a seasoned local or a newcomer. The hiking is perfect for families, and the orchard is brimming with activities like hayrides and Pick-Your-Own-Apples. The orchard boasts a panoramic, 360 degree view of Charlottesville and the surrounding mountains in all their azure glory. There’s nothing that ushers in autumn quite like drinking fresh hot apple cider and eating donuts at sunset while the sky is streaked with warm hues of pink and orange. All through September Carter Mountain Orchard have a Thursday Evening Sunset Series with dinner and live music. And there really are so many things you can do with the apples you take home…pies, ciders, stewed apples, applesauce, apple butter, caramel apples, fritters, turnovers, the list is endless.

I could go on…indeed, apples are probably my favorite topic other than real estate…but I digress. Carter Mountain itself is located on land south of Charlottesville, a few miles past Monticello, but it’s owned by Crown Orchard Company out of Covesville. The Chiles family has been in the orchard business since 1912, a career spanning four generations, seven orchards in central Virginia, and a lot of people of varying ages getting their hands dirty. Crown Orchard Company provides wholesale quantities for much of the region, due in large part to a modernized, cutting-edge packing facility in Covesville augmented by a staff that works year-round. Land in central Virginia, with its rolling uplands and hilly pastures is a great candidate for orchard and vineyard cultivation anyway.

And it’s not a bad time to be in the apple business. The USDA is reporting a significant growth in U.S. fresh apple exports over the last few years, reflecting and responding to a shift in the levers of supply and demand. Most apples produced in the U.S. are used domestically, but demand for them is diminishing due to counter-seasonal competition which often comes in the form of imports. We’re talking grapes, berries, and stone-fruits which are in season around the same time as apples. At around the turn of the century, fruit production in the Southern Hemisphere (particularly Chile) began to expand, providing tropical fruits to American consumers whose choices were more limited in the winter months.

Domestic apple production outpaces domestic demand, and so there was an excess of product, particularly in Washington State, which churns out a significant chunk of U.S.-grown apples. This excess of supply has been leading to a huge amount of growth in annual export numbers…up from 607 million pounds in the 1980s to 2.3 billion pounds in 2014/2015. Half of the U.S. fresh apple exports go to Mexico, Canada, and India, with Mexico alone accounting for 25% of U.S. export market. The U.S. is now the third largest exporter of apples, behind Poland and China. Despite this, apples from the U.S. are ranked first globally overall, and reach a variety of markets in Southern Asia like Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. Due to the changing markets, producers have focused their attention on new cultivars, such as Fuji, HoneyCrisp and Gala apples. It’s not a bad time to get into the business, especially if you have elevated land in central Virginia. (You will need to purchase propagated varieties as you cannot plant a seed and grow your own apple trees). Dwarfs and semidwarfs will start to bear fruit in 2-4 years, (around a bushel or two per year), and by the time you hit the 5-8 range, you could be reaping 4-5 bushels a year!

If you have longed to start your own orchard and are looking to buy a farm in Central Virginia, call or email Gayle, she’d love to talk with you!



Ferreira, Gustavo and Perez, Agnes. Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: March 2016. USDA, Economic Research Service, March 2016

Stonefield Farmers Market on the Green

As the steadfast, ardent proponents of central Virginia farms, local food, and everything farm-to-table, we at Gayle Harvey Real Estate are no strangers to writing about farmers markets. So imagine our surprise when we discovered a relatively new one right under our noses, at the Shops at Stonefield! Stonefield, with its array of upscale restaurants, clothing shops, and the affordably artisanal Trader Joe’s grocery store, was the last place we thought of looking for a farmers market, but sometimes the best things in life are tucked away where you least expect them. So we’d like to introduce you to Stonefield’s farmers market, which is hosted by the group Central Farm Markets.

If you’re not familiar with the Shops at Stonefield, head north on US-29 out of Charlottesville, towards the traffic, towards the land in Orange County, Madison County, up to Washington, D.C. and all the other things about which your parents warned you. The market is hosted on Saturdays from 9:30am until 2:30pm, at which point you can simply meander over from the local vendors and go catch a movie at the Regal Stonefield, do some more shopping, or grab a late lunch.

A little more about Central Farm Markets…it’s an organization that was founded in 2008 as a sort of farmers market collective. Their first market was started in 2008 in a parking lot in Bethesda, MD, where they had 17 vendors. They’ve since expanded outwards, with thriving markets in Bethesda and Pike Maryland, Fairfax, VA and now Charlottesville. Beyond just making local and organic varieties of produce, meats, and cheeses available to the community, Central Farm Markets advocates for more deliberate sustainability practices in farming.

The Stonefield Market features around 30 different vendors, most of which are from the central Virginia area. We’ll highlight a few of these below, but if you want to get in on the action, see for yourself!

On their website, the Bageladies state unequivocally their belief that “Bagels done right can change the world.” In Charlottesville, we read that as “Bagels done right can give Bodo’s a run for its money,” and this bagel outfit from Waynesboro is doing just that! Their bagels also contain 60% fewer sugars than traditional, store-bought bagels and have virtually no wheat starch glucose. They also have great recipe ideas for grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza bagels, and bagel burgers. Bodo’s, you’re still #1.

Established in 2000, Radical Roots is a family farm on five acres of land in Rockingham County. The farmers are committed to sustainable agriculture, using permaculture farming techniques to harness the land. They maximize the potential of their five acres by growing certified organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs, an amazing bounty considering the small staff and the concentration of land.

Then there’s the super-local Buck Mountain Farms, which makes its home north of Charlottesville, in Earlysville. Buck Mountain employs a similar philosophy on farming, making efficient use of the rotational grazing to produce high-quality chicken and grass-fed cattle on evenly grazed, sustainable pastures. Their willingness to learn the nuances of permacultural farming means they maximize the land’s potential, relying on no manufactured fertilizer! Come enjoy some free-range chicken or the 14 different cuts of grass-fed beef today! They’ve also got red beets, turnips, and lettuce.

The Rock Barn is quickly on its way to becoming a Charlottesville institution; it’s already on the menu at various Cville staples like Fry’s Spring Station, and Ivy Provisions. You don’t edge your way to the top of a competitive culinary environment like Charlottesville’s without a quality product, which is pork. Multiple cuts of pork for every occasion, at wholesale or retail amounts. If you think you could handle it, try the porkshare…if not, grab yourself a cut or two. Operating out of an estate, Oak Ridge, in Nelson County, the Rock Barn operates based on a nose-to-tail philosophy, utilizing literally every part of the pig with a focus on the big picture.