Orchards, Etc. — The Valley’s “Growth Industry”

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The Shenandoah Valley’s rich agricultural heritage is thriving today. Indeed, agricultural is by far the largest sector of the economy in the state, and the Shenandoah Valley is home to four of the top five agricultural counties in Virginia, producing $1.2 billion annually in commodities sold.

Agri-tourism in the Valley runs the gamut from orchards to farm markets to livestock to produce. Not to leave out “pick your own” experiences, Christmas tree farms, ride-a-llama, and farm-to-table restaurants, etc. Cideries are proliferating, too. The first Virginia Cider Festival in the Shenandoah Valley was just held July 21st, drawing 16 cideries.

As you travel the Shenandoah Valley, keep your eyes open and don’t hesitate to visit one of these agri-business attractions.

Marker-Miller Orchards in Winchester is open Monday-Friday from 9:00 to 6:00 and Saturday from 9:00 to 5:00, during summer. Available produce literally runs from A to Z—apricots to zucchini, for example—with peaches, apples, corn, tomatoes, beans, squash, etc. in between. Savor baked goods, fudge and hand-dipped ice cream, too. Coming August 11—their Peach Festival, offering: peach cobbler, peach pie, peach turnovers, peach ice cream, and fresh peaches galore! Enjoy music from 1-3 P.M while sitting on the front porch or in the picnic pavilion. A variety of food will be available at the food building. Events coming in the fall include an apple harvest festival, a pumpkin festival and a bakery festival. Find out more here.

Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouse  is family owned and has been in business since 1965. Located near Timberville, about nine miles west of New Market, they grow dozens of varieties of apples and peaches plus pick your own hydroponic produce. Offerings change but include: lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs and strawberries. The Farm Store sells everything they grow and an expansive greenhouse is bursting with spring bedding plants, geraniums, hanging baskets plus annuals and perennials of many types, and of course mums in the fall.

Co-owner Sarah Showalter told us, “August is an eventful and exciting month at Showalter’s. It marks the beginning of our Pick-Your-Own season. Peaches are expected to be ready for harvest near the middle of the month, and we are kicking off the harvest season with our summer festival called “Summerfest”– also the name of one of our peach varieties. These varieties that ripen at the end of the peach season are well worth the wait! At the end of August, we will also begin harvesting apples. We expect to be picking Ginger Gold and Gala apples at that time.”

Showalter’s is also home to Old Hill Hard Cider, grown, pressed and bottled right on the spot. Ciders have differences that can be explored in Old Hill’s Tasting Room. Choose from Yesteryear, Heritage, Betwixt, Season’s Finish and others.

At the Dayton Market, about six miles southwest of Harrisonburg, you can find a wildly eclectic mix of country bounty: locally grown beef and poultry, sausage, bacon, pork, cheeses, baked goods, gifts and handmade crafts, and much more. This community of shops has been in business since 1987. Open Thursday to Saturday, 9:00 to 6:00.

The White Oak Lavender Farm & Purple Wolf Vineyard, Harrisonburg, is a multi-faceted operation centering around the growth of lavender and celebrating its many uses. Lavender is a scent, a relaxant, a massage oil, and an ingredient in many recipes; the farm offers lovely gardens to wander, U-Pick experiences, classes and tours. The Purple WOLF (White Oak Lavender Farm) has three outdoor bars and one indoors, where 11 samples of wines can be had for $12.

Gross’s Orchard (540) 586-2436 in Bedford has been in business since before the turn of the century. They just held (on July 28) their first peach festival; they have an Apple Harvest Festival coming up October 20, and the Apple Valley 5K November 3. They specialize in peaches and apples, but you can get country ham, bacon, jams, jellies and apple cider in the shop.

Johnson’s Orchards, (540) 586-3707, in Bedford is a fifth-generation farm started in 1919. They produce 25 different fruit wines on site and the old packing shed/store is resplendent with apples, peaches, nectarines and plums; plus cold cider from the press, as well as jellies, jams, butters and relish. The popular Horse and Hound Wine Festival was just held here in July. Extend your visit here with a stay at thepopular Peaks of Otter.

Visit Fields of Gold, a regional program founded in 2010 and designed to promote the Valley’s agri-business and sites, to find other farm attractions.

Lead Photo courtesy Marker-Miller Orchards 

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