Nothing says "tradition" like five generations. So when Denny Hoxsie talks about how things are done on his Apple farm it really means something. After all, his great-great grandfather did things the same way. "We have a personal relationship with each tree," he says. Around the turn of the century, when people discovered the magical farming climate of Northern Michigan, the Hoxies put their first Apple tree in the ground. Since then, every year they have worked to make their harvest just a little bit better than the year before. Not a larger harvest...but a better one. "Although the process is similar from year to year, there is always something new to figure out," Denny says.
The Hoxsies start in March with pruning the trees, allowing the sun's rays to pour in. By May, they bring in Honey Bees to pollinate the Orchard. "Honey bees are extremely important to the apple crop as apple blossoms need pollen from a different variety of apple trees to cross pollinate the blossom and make an apple," Denny says of the weeks his orchard begins to take shape.
The Hoxsie farm is at the earth's 45th parallel, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, which means long summer days (about 18 hours of light) without being too far north to sacrifice hot afternoon sun. Through the summer, they hand prune each tree, trading quality for quantity, and making sure that the end of summer yields the crispest, juiciest, ripest apples possible. By mid-September, the orchard is ready for harvest. Remember, not the biggest harvest, but the best, so each Apple is picked by hand. "Because we grow fresh market apples, much care is taken by our harvest crew to not bruise the apples as they pick them," Denny says. Soon the apples make the quarter-mile journey from Hoxie's farm to the Brownwood kitchen. The same crisp, unbruised apples Denny sells at his famous roadside fruit stand become the primary ingredient for our Apple-Riesling Salsa, Apple Butter and Simply Delicious Apple Fruit Topping. Whether its dipping a tortilla chip into the salsa or enjoying fluffy apple topped pancakes on a Saturday morning, close your eyes as you taste the rich, crisp apple flavor and think of Denny's great-great grandfather; he would be proud you are experiencing the tradition he started.