Fireside Orchard and Gardens in Northfield, Minnesota, is a second-generation company that was founded in 1980 by Robert Harvey. "I began selling apples from a picnic table in my front yard and today my son Todd and I operate the 40-acre orchard, along with a retail store that offers a variety of apples and related products," says Robert. "Over the years we have added a pond and other amenities to the property to provide the fall experience that consumers are looking for," offers Todd. "Going to the apple orchard has become an annual pilgrimage for many Minnesotans, and we try to make it a fun experience for all ages."
As the air turns cooler, their crop of hand-picked local apples begins arriving in our markets and includes such varieties as HoneyCrisp, Haralson, Regent, Cortland, Fireside and McIntosh. "We hand-pick all our apples to ensure a quality product," said Robert. Jim Kowalski observed this attention to quality on a recent visit to the orchard to see the operation first hand.
Fireside Orchard has also created a cider for Kowalski's that is a blend of many of these local apples that were developed by the University of Minnesota. "You will find that it starts out sweet-tart at the beginning of the season and subtly becomes sweeter as the season progresses and different apple varieties become available," said Todd.
"The apples are pressed and each jug is hand-filled and delivered directly to our markets for added freshness," adds Jim Kowalski. "That's the value of dealing with local growers."