You would never guess that in this harsh environment of the Sonoran desert that a little green oasis exists. We recently visited Howard’s Orchard, run by Jim Howard. It is an organic apple, peach and pear orchard located 20 miles outside of Tucson. Jim greeted us at the gate and welcomed us right in. He showed us back to the trees that were ripe for picking and let us go at it.
The difference between the desert and the orchard was stunning. Outside it was hot and dry and harsh. Inside it was cooler, shady, sweet smelling and full of life. So full actually that you could hear it all around in the bees eating the sweet juices of fallen rotting apples. Those bees paid us no attention as we picked apples around them because there was so much to eat there was no need for competition.
Jim started the orchard twenty years ago out of simple need for something like it in the area. I was telling him that I had previously traveled three hours east to Willcox ever year to get apples, but this year I had heard about his orchard via word of mouth. He used to do the same, go to Willcox that is, and so he didn’t want to go that far anymore and the orchard was born.
We collected over 50 pounds of apples. Eating at least a half a pound on the way. I can’t really tell you what we picked as Jim had not put up all the signs yet. I think some were granny smith and some were Jonathan’s.
V spent most of the time sleeping on my back, giving me visions of last year’s apple harvest.
S is getting really used to getting our fruit from orchards and farms and I feel so good about this. She knows already the difference between apple tree leaves and peach tree leaves. She can tell you what all the veggies are just from the plant leaves.
The temperature dropped a good 5 degrees simply because of the cool ground. It felt so good to wander through damp grasses. S even kicked off her shoes and ran barefoot for a while. When we checked out it was an hour later. We had 50 pounds of apples and only paid 38 dollars for it. When Jim asked what I was going to do with all the apples I said, “Well, make 15 quarts of apples sauce, dried apple rings, apple pie, apple crumble, apple everything.” To that he replied, “You must be a farm girl?” And I said, ” Nope, just a city girl with hopes and dreams.”