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Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake

It’s been awhile since we have posted a recipe, but with cherry season in full swing, we can’t resist making a delicious dessert from our tart, montmorency cherries!

This recipe comes from one of our Apple Barn staff members who is always bringing in delectable treats for everyone to enjoy…and this dessert was no exception!

CHOCOLATE CHERRY DUMP CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Kimmel Orchard Tart Cherries
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 20 oz. Can Crushed Pineapple (do not drain)
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Flakes
  • 3/4 cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 15 oz. Yellow Cake Mix
  • 3/4 cup Butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 13 x 9in baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together cherries, sugar, pinapple, nuts and coconut. Spread mixture in prepared pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over top. Then sprinkle chocolate chips over cake mix. Drizzle the melted butter over top. Bake for 40 minutes.  Serve warm with cool whip or ice cream! 🙂

Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake

 

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Producer Interview: In the Orchard with Tyler Vock

Food Adventures with Connie

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tyler Vock, Orchard Manager at Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard north of Nebraska City, Nebraska to learn more about the operation and get his advice for beginning farmers considering fruit production.

Q1: How many acres is this farm?
A1: 98 total.

Q2: Which crops do you grow here?
A2: We grow apples, cherries, peaches, strawberries, vegetables, pears, plums, pumpkins, and sweet corn.

Q3: What is your main crop and why?
A3: Apples – it’s what we’re known for at Kimmel Orchard. About half of the total acres here are planted in apples.

Q4: You grow multiple apple varieties. Can you share which ones are your favorites?
A4: My favorites are Honeycrisp, Jonathan, and Pink Lady. The Honeycrisp are a sweet apple; they’re definitely the most popular apple that we grow here. I like the Jonathans because they’re tart. And I like the…

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Meet The Interns!

Boy, it’s been awhile since we’ve posted. The end of April, beginning of May is always a busy time for us as the Orchard, as everything is coming in bloom and things start to get geared up! In the midst of May, we always have an array of things going on. Among those “things” is having the opportunity to have summer interns! Each year we strive to have three college interns focused in different areas of the business. This year we have interns in the areas of Marketing/Business Development, Orchard Operations and Landscape/Maintenance.  Giving students the ability to gain hands on learning is something we believe strongly in. Therefore, we have decided to feature the interns throughout the summer on the blog! First up is Aaron, our Marketing/Business Development intern. See below what he has been up to so far this summer!

 

My name is Aaron Miller and I am currently working as the marketing/business development intern here at Kimmel Orchard. This is my 3rd week working as an intern here at Kimmel and I have already gotten to be involved with quite a bit. One of the things I’m doing is helping with the 90 Days of Giveaways campaign to celebrate Kimmel’s 90th anniversary. It’s been very interesting to observe the success of this campaign so far. The giveaways have helped our Facebook page grow almost 400 likes in just over 2 weeks. From what I can see so far, it looks like this has been a very good way to connect with our customers.

Another project I’ve gotten to start on is researching how we can improve our group tours here at Kimmel. I’ve looked at how quite a few other orchards set theirs up and also looked into tour curriculum varying for different age groups. This has definitely been a fun challenge because we have an opportunity to be unique if we can find a good way to personalize our tours to suit different grade levels.

I also had the opportunity to work the Strawberry Festival on Saturday. I worked a cash register in the apple barn and was amazed by the turnout. It was very interesting seeing how many people came out for the festival after seeing what goes into marketing an event like that. Erin used the large number of people interacting with the 90 Days of Giveaways campaign to get the word out about the strawberry festival and I believe that is what helped get so many people out to the orchard that day.

So far I’ve gotten to experience a lot of different aspects of how the orchard (or any business) runs. It’s been very exciting to be able to offer up ideas and try to help the orchard have a successful start to the summer. Whether it’s brainstorming for our group tours or learning how to handle some of our books, I believe I’ve already gotten some good experience and am very excited for the summer ahead.

Orange You Glad I Asked?…

A couple of Friday’s ago I had the opportunity to go to Lincoln to the State FFA Convention to participate in the Career Fair. We offer a variety of summer internships for college students, and while all of the attending FFA students were still in high school, it provided a great chance to inform hundreds of youth of the potential opportunities available to them.

Two things I learned. 1.) I need to bring more pens and promotional material. 2.) We might need to consider growing oranges at the Orchard. (Okay, not really, but I will explain why here shortly.)

Going in to this I didn’t really know what to expect, as I had never been to a career fair involving high school youth.  I learned they LOVE free promotional items. I had brought a few things…bags, candy, etc.., but not even close to enough to provide something for every student! Rest assured, more pens and apple shaped stress relief balls were ordered! 🙂

Stress relief balls and pens for everyone!

Stress relief balls and pens for everyone!

Secondly, when students would visit our booth I would initiate the conversation with the basic questions…what school are you from, what grade are you in, do you have future plans, etc…  I could immediately pinpoint the younger students as compared to the juniors/seniors based on how timid some of them were. But what really through me for a loop was that no matter the age group when I asked the next question, the overriding answer was the same. The question: Name 4 of the 8 fruits we grow at Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard.

Some students gave blank stares, some tried to quick flip through our brochure and most saw the apples that were sitting on our booth space as display and started their guessing with, APPLES? Yes! They guessed one, three more to go! And this is where I was completely amazed. An overwhelming majority of students guessed oranges.

Oranges?!?!

Oranges?!?!

I was absolutely stunned at that answer. Do students really think we grow oranges in Nebraska or are they just guessing the first fruits that come to mind? While I am sure it is a mixture of both, it left me troubled. I tried to think back to the “good ole day” of being in high school (while I don’t like to consider myself too old, high school was already 9 years ago!) Would I have guessed oranges also? I tried to reassure myself thinking; no way would I have thought a citrus fruit could be grown in Nebraska. But then again, before I started working at Kimmel Orchard I really had no idea cherries and peaches could be grown in Nebraska, either. So, while I wanted to assume I would have NEVER thrown out oranges as an answer to a question like that, I couldn’t help but wonder if my 16 year old self would have guessed the same thing.

Ok, so students guessed oranges, does it really matter? For some maybe not, but as someone who works at an Orchard promoting alternative agriculture, it is huge.  Personally, my eyes were widely opened when I first entered the Orchard industry. (And for someone who only knew red and green apples coming in to this, I’ve come a loonnngg way…25 apple varieties later, I am kind of a snob at the grocery store anymore. J ) Anyhow my point is; attending the career fair only solidified what I have experienced in working at an Orchard for the past three years; there is a very strong disconnect amongst consumers and knowing when and where there fresh produce/food actually comes from.

Whether it is guests visiting the Orchard in June wondering why we don’t have apples or hundreds of FFA students thinking we grow oranges, there is such a learning curve for most individuals when it comes to fresh produce and their overall logistics. And, while I think it is a concern, I also believe it provides us Orchard folks a great opportunity to educate children, students, adults, consumers, or whoever on fruit based production.

Therefore, I encourage you to visit a local Orchard (Kimmel Orchard of course if you’re in Nebraska J ) and talk to the grower, farmer, retail associate and ask questions if you have them.  I know we are always trying to help guests learn of the different fruit and vegetables we grow, as I am sure most retail farm markets are.  So, even if it’s not an Orchard, visit a dairy, local honey maker, berry farm….whatever or whoever it may be; it is one step closer to becoming more knowledgeable on locally based food production.  Plus, you will probably end up leaving with some of the freshest produce you can get…and maybe a promotional pen. 😉

-Erin

“Tuesday’s With Tyler” – New Tree Plantings

This spring we planted 300 new trees at Kimmel Orchard.  These trees were planted based on the tall spindle model that I had written about in a previous blog post.  Some of these trees were intended to be planted last year but with a shortage from the nurseries we received the trees this year and planted them yesterday. These trees were planted in the same block we started to fill last year.  With the additional 300 trees, we are getting a little closer to completing the newest block of tall spindle trees at Kimmel Orchard.

The trees that were planted this year arrived last week.  After marking our rows we will go through with our Bobcat and dig up each hole where the trees are to be planted.  From there the guys will be following close behind to put the trees into the ground.  With these dwarf trees we want the graft union to be 4-6 inches out of the ground and the roots are well spaced.  They will fill dirt in around the tree and then compact the dirt as best as possible.

Once all of the trees are planted like this we will work very quickly to get the trellis or support system up.  In a previous blog post I had written on the style of trellis system we like to use.  The trellis system is extremely important for these trees.  The trellis system can be viewed as an investment, rather than just an establishment cost.  The reason behind that is a good, tall, and strong trellis system will help these young trees grow straight and tall without breaking due to the weight of any fruit set or natural causes such as wind.

After you have the trees in the ground and the trellis system up we are not completely done yet.  Next we will do something called branch manipulation, or bending of the branches below horizontal.  This will help eliminate these side branches from competing with the leader for the most growth while also promoting an early crop set.  We will also irrigate these trees throughout the summer to help them grow. In a perfect world we would like to see these trees reach the top wire after the second year and no later than the third year.

It is very important for us at Kimmel Orchard to continue planting new trees each year so we can continue to provide our guests with a great opportunity to learn where their food comes from and how it is grown.  We also enjoy seeing people taking a great interest in learning the evolution of these fruit trees.  This way of planting trees differs so much from when Mr. Kimmel first established the orchard 90 years ago and I am sure 90 years from now there will be unthinkable ways to produce apples.

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“Tuesday’s With Tyler” — Wine Making

Grapes

In the upcoming weeks, before we get back in to the swing of things and ready for Spring, we will try and get our wine labeled and transferred back to Kimmel Orchard.  The last of the wines that we produce are our fruit wines.  This is because we use our fresh apple cider from the previous fall in both our Apple Wine and Apple Pie Wine.  We also use the cherry juice from our Montmorency cherries grown right here at the Orchard to make our Cherry Wine.

Throughout the fall we typically produce around 12,000-16,000 gallons of fresh apple cider.  From that, around 700 gallons will be used to produce our Apple Wine.  By the numbers, our Apple Wine is one of the best sellers for us (Only seems right since we are known for our apples!).  We also will distill some of our Apple Cider and the spirits from that will then be blended with our Apple Wine to create a guest favorite, Apple Pie Wine.

Usually the last wine we will produce from the previous year’s crop is our Cherry Wine.  This is the most popular wine we produce as it usually sells out on a year to year basis!  There is a lot of prep work with this wine before it is ready for our guests to enjoy.  As you may assume, cherries are not the most pleasant thing to pick.  We will spend around two weeks picking all the cherries grown here.  From there we will freeze all cherries in our collection bins and once everything is picked we will get ready to juice them.  Before we can juice the cherries, we will pit every one of them.  From there, they will be taken to our press and, similar to how we make our apple cider, we will crush and press all our cherries.  We will typically run the cherry pumice through the press three to four times (we want to make sure we collect every bit of juice from the cherries).  From there we pump the juice into a bulk tank and place it in our freezer until we are ready to start the wine production.  The total amount of juice will vary from year to year depending on our crop.  This past year we picked roughly 6,400 pounds of cherries for our wine! That’s a lot of cherries!  This is truly one of the wines we are most proud of here at Kimmel Orchard, and are very happy with the amount of repeat guests that will come in the spring just to get their bottle of this wine!

I have attached a short video that our awesome intern Janey from last year put together showing the steps of wine production.  We also have to give credit and a big thank you to Ron at Whiskey Run Creek, located in Brownville, NE, for producing great wine out of the grapes and fruit grown right here at the Orchard.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

While most folks enjoy St. Patrick’s Day for corned beef and cabbage, green beers and beads, we enjoy it because it is most generally followed by the first day of SPRING! That is not to discredit all of the fun and festivities St. Patrick’s day brings, but as an Orchard we live and breath fresh produce and cannot wait for the new season to SPRING upon us again! So we figure, what better way to honor our green wearing comrades than with our version of wearing green with what we grow… asparagus, cucumbers, zucchini, grapes and apples oh my! 🙂

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Fruits and vegetables that is!

Fruits and vegetables that is!