Apples, a family affair

By Fran Gonzalez | Oct 09, 2019
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Matthew Hooper shows visitors his knowledge of apples and dinosaurs Oct. 5 at Hooper's Orchard in Monroe.

Monroe — Matthew Hooper is 3 years old and a dinosaur expert. On a brilliant fall afternoon with just a slight nip in the air, he displays apples available at his family's farm, Hooper's Orchard.

According to his mom, Belle Hooper, they have been selling apples for about 10 years and have over 60 varieties of apples to choose from. Also available, six types of Asian pears, peaches and also several different kinds of pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns.

Two thousand apple trees make up the rolling 300-acre farm. Granduncle Dennis Hooper enjoys giving visitors a tour, including their back orchard, on a tractor-pulled hayride.

The orchard also features an expansive corn maze, where brave adventurers are asked to find hidden dinosaurs for prizes.

"This year we've got a lot of new customers," Belle said, as a result of an ad they placed on Facebook.

Dennis makes cider using an unusual-looking press. The Lancman cider press, he said, employs a "hydraulic bladder" that, when filled with water, expands and presses the apple mash against a slotted stainless steel barrel, turning it into cider.

They originally had an old wooden press, but could not keep up with the demand. On average, they sell 60 to 70 gallons a weekend, he said. The cider sells as fast as he can make it.

Matthew's grandmother, Iris Hooper, said the orchard "has been very busy this year. Many people say they have just discovered it."  

To round out the family operation, Marina Hooper, 14, directs visitors to the many rows of dwarf apple trees. The small trees that comprise the front section of the orchard are just the right size for anyone to be able to reach and pick off the branch.

One last member of the family, Snugs the bulldog, was very interested in a croissant on the counter.

Belle anticipates the orchard will be open as long as they have apples. Last year they stopped on Oct. 23, but this year she said they have a good crop and they could possibly go until the first week in November.

Hooper's Orchard, at 856 Back Brooks Road in Monroe, is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. They charge $1.25 a pound to pick your own apples.

Marina, left, and mom Belle Hooper behind the counter at their family Applestore at Hooper's Orchard Oct. 5. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Dwarf apple trees are a perfect size for picking apples right from the tree without the aid of a ladder at Hooper's Orchard in Monroe Oct. 5. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Granduncle Dennis Hooper presses apples using a Lancman cider press Oct. 5. The press's hydraulic bladder squeezes the apple mash against its stainless steel barrel to produce cider. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Local honey for sale at Hooper's Orchard in Monroe. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Dianne Horton | Oct 10, 2019 08:01

A Wonderful Place to buy and pick apples, etc. and visit. Dianne and Dan Horton

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