When Dan and Brandyn Prairie purchased their home on County Route 24 (the Brainardsville Rd), Malone in 2013, Dan really wanted to utilize the open field behind their home to grow a crop. After a lot of thought, he ended up narrowing his choices down to either planting a vineyard or an apple orchard. Dan eventually settled on growing apples, not only because of their profitability potential but also because it would be something the family enjoyed doing together. In the spring of 2014, Prairie’s Orchard was established with the planting of sixty Macintosh and sixty Honey Crisp trees. Since then, more trees have been planted each spring with plans to continue to do so.
With no background or existing knowledge about apple production, Dan has had to learn as he goes and has devoted a lot of time to educating himself about orchard management and production. He has spent countless hours attending classes, researching online, talking to others in the industry, and utilizing available resources such as the Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program through Cornell Cooperative Extension. He has also become involved with industry organizations such as the US Apple Association (US Apple) which represents approximately 7500 US apple growers, 40 state and regional apple associations, and hundreds of packers/shippers, processors, marketers, and other parties interested in the apple industry. In 2018, Dan was chosen by US Apple to be one of twenty “Young Apple Leaders of America” from across the country and was given the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. with other industry leaders to lobby for issues pertinent to the apple industry.
To date, Prairie’s Orchard has approximately 850 trees made up of seven different varieties. These include: Liberty, Empire, Jonathan, Honey Crisp, Macintosh, Gala, and Cortland. Last fall marked the first year for limited apples sales. This year, as the trees mature, more apples, as well as more varieties will be available for sale.
Prairie’s Orchard will be selling apples along with other local products such as honey, maple syrup, pumpkins, and gourds at their roadside stand on County Route 24, just outside of Malone. Future plans include further orchard expansion as well as an on farm bakery and possibly a hard cider making facility. People can keep up to date on orchard happenings by following Prairie’s Orchard on Facebook and prairiesorchard on Instagram.
Photos of Prairie’s Orchard sign and trees.
They’ll want different varieties than those seven if they want to make really GOOD hard cider. (For my future cider brewing, I’ve planted Ashmead’s Kernel, Golden Russet, Goldrush, Minnesota 1734, Millwaukee, Striped Harvey, and Chestnut Crab – all purchased from St. Lawrence Nurseries in Potsdam.)