Aug 31, 2023
IFTA Summer Tour: A review of Day 2

Participants in the International Fruit Tree Association’s Summer Tour in Nova Scotia visited a variety of growers of apples, other fruit, vegetables and even livestock.

On the second day of the tour, July 25, the first stop was at Lutz Family Farm Ltd.

Lutz Family Farm Ltd.

IFTA-Larry-Lutz
Larry Lutz
Photos by Matt McCallum.

The operation is a sixth-generation family farm specializing in apple and peach production. The farm was started in the early 1860s by Larry Lutz’s great-great-grandfather Thomas Palmer, who was an apple grower. Current owners Larry and Janice Lutz still live in the original farmhouse Palmer built.

They started farming in 1989 while both had careers off the farm. They started with 56 acres of land, a small beef cattle herd and a few acres of processing apples. Now the farm owns about 1,000 acres of land with about 140 acres in operational apple and peach orchards.

There is an on-farm nursery that produces 10,000 to 20,000 trees annually for their own use. The remainder is forest land or in the process of being developed for future plantings. Larry Lutz finished his career at Scotian Gold in 2015 and Janice Lutz left her other job in 2019. Son-in-law Cassian Ferlatte joined in 2015. More recently, their son, Sam Lutz, has joined the farm. It is very much a family operation.

Crisp Growers

Next, the tour visited Crisp Growers in Morristown, on the south mountain of the Annapolis Valley.

Crisp Growers is a corporation owned by 14 apple-growing families, along with Scotian Gold.

IFTA-Crisp-orchard
A scenic view at Crisp Orchards.

There is a seven-member board of directors and an executive committee. A farm manager runs the day-to-day operations. The farm is supported by seasonal workers from Jamaica. Prior to becoming Crisp Growers, the farm was a corporate-owned apple farm that dissolved in bankruptcy.

A large portion of the low- to medium-density varieties grown at that time were the wrong varieties for the modern market. In 2013, when Crisp Growers acquired the farm, aggressive replanting modernized the orchard with high-density plantings.

There are currently more than 250 acres planted that consists of a high percentage of Honeycrisp. Ambrosia, Minneiska, Gala and Rave make up most of the rest. The elevation on the farm is between 45 meters to 229 meters (147 feet to 751 feet).

Spurr Brothers Farms

The third stop of the day was at Spurr Brothers Farms, Melvern Square.

IFTA-Lisa-Spurr
Lisa Spurr leads an orchard tour during the IFTA event.

The lunch stop at Spurr Brothers farm market and tap room gave tour participants the opportunity to sample ciders. The farm produces five varieties: Dry, Original, Granny Smith, Wild Blueberry and the multi-fruit Strawberry-Rhubarb-Haskap Blueberry Cranberry, Pear-Apple Cider.

Spurr Brothers Farms is a fifth-generation family farm spanning 800 acres, specializing in the production of apples, onions and carrots. They also cultivate a wide variety of other fruits and vegetables, which they sell directly to consumers at their market, and offer u-pick options.

Lisa Spurr led a tour of the orchard after lunch, featuring an overview of a v-system she uses for pears and a block of apples on several different rootstocks.

Wohlgemuth Farms Ltd.

The final stop was in Aylesford, at Wohlgemuth Farms Ltd.

Co-owner Henry Wohlgemuth, quit his construction business in 2001, when his father and brother joined him in purchasing an apple orchard next to their hog operation.

Over the years, production has expanded, with 90 acres of mostly high-density apples.

The hog operation also expanded in 2007, to an 800 sow farrow-to-wean operation.

— Matt McCallum

Related content: IFTA Summer Tour: A review of Day 1




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