Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sleepy Hollow Orchard

When Joe Pellegrene was in his seventies he decided to purchase an orchard, that was in 1996 one year after he sold his garbage company.  Today that orchard is known as Sleepy Hollow Orchard and Joe is 88.  Joe, along with Dolores, own 38 acres full of apple trees, peach trees, and a few plum trees. Sleepy Hollow is the only U-Pick orchard in the area, and on really productive years they open their orchard up to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank for gleaning opportunities (when fallen fruit or fruit that may be bruised is leftover, volunteers from the food bank pick and collect them for free and use them for their food bank).

When we went out to visit the orchard on an unusually warm spring day, we were greeted with never ending rows of beautiful apple trees with the prettiest white blossoms and the sound of buzzing bees busy pollinating. Dolores met us and lead us to a spot at the tip top of their uphill driveway so we could snap a couple pictures of the orchard that sprawled out below us.  We discussed how Joe wound up in the apple business and then turned our discussion to the harsh winter we had this year.  Because of the extreme cold, some days that reached 40 below with the windchill, the peach trees' blossoms were killed.  This year none of their peach trees will be producing fruit and a majority of their plum trees will be fruitless too, thanks to the cold temperatures.  Dolores showed us how the apple trees should have had much fuller and numerous blossoms, and a section of tress that had almost no blossoms because of where the wind swept through the orchard during the winter. Because of the winter the apple season is going to be starting later this year than normal too.  Typically Sleepy Hollow would start having peaches and apples in mid-July, but Dolores believes that it won't be until August until any apples are ready to be picked.

Typically Sleepy Hollow grows peaches, purple and yellow plums, and four varieties of apples:
Paula's Red
Red and Yellow Delicious
Granny Smith

If you want to take your family on a fun experience of picking your own apples, check with the local newspaper in late summer when Sleepy Hollow will be announcing their opening dates for picking, or just look for them at the market!