Apples.. Apples.. Apples..
The first thing you see as you drive over the causeway is the Apple Island Campground. That says it in a nutshell. You have entered a wonderful world of apples known as "The Islands", specifically South Hero, your first stop. There are a number of well known orchards and on August 2, 2019 the South Hero Historical Society hosted a presentation about Hackett's Orchard at 7:00PM as the first public forum in the new Worthen Library. The presentation started on time, after a couple of growing pains had been resolved, to an overflow crowd.
The first speaker, Rod Larrow, took us through some history of the orchard in an earlier day when his family owned the property. He told us how many varieties of apple were present at that time. You would not believe me if I told you so I won't, you have to watch the video. He also took us through what varieties were popular in those earlier years and how they were marketed. In that time frame automation was coming to the apple industry. Rod's father was riding that wave using the systems known as ROD and his brother. [Kind of a manual automation, I guess]. He then turned the mike over to Ron.
Ron Hackett then talked about the orchard when he purchased it as a modern day gentleman farmer. He had a full time job and lumped his vacation together during picking season. Working off island during the day and working the orchard when he got home, he realized that was a bit much and years after buying the orchard he RETIRED to become a full time apple man. Ron has an odd way of retiring, but to each his own I suppose.
Ron then goes on to tell us how his time as the manager [if his wife had spoken there might have been a different idea of who the manager was, but I digress] improved the efficiency of picking, sorting , selling apples. He discussed the benefits of Bees and Malcolm Allen who could design and build just about anything needed to automate. If I told you have many orchards there were in the county you would not believe me so I won't, you have to watch the video. Ron turned the mike over to his grandson Devin Hackett.
Devin took us through the current set of improvements being implemented at the orchard. Improvements that make picking apples from the ground easier, many more trees per acre of orchard floor, changes to the machinery to improve purification time. As time goes by, those of us that go by Hackett's Orchard every day will be seeing subtle and not so subtle changes to the landscape as these improvements come to fruition. If I told you the tree per acre density of the Larrow orchard to the Hackett Orchard to what will be in the near future as Devin does his magic you would not believe me so I won't. You have to watch the video.