James Steve Dalton,
Fruit of the Spirit Orchard and Vineyard
Crop Diversification: Berry Juices and Jams
Grant Award: $6,000
Steve is adding several more fruit crops to his blackberry farm: blueberries, raspberries, dwarf apple trees, and table, juice and wine grapes. He is also building a press room and rebuilding an old cider press so he can make juices and jams from berries, apples and grapes. He is continuing his family’s three-generation tradition of cider making.
The orchard is located on top of Sugarloaf Mountain, which provides great air circulation ideal for growing fruit and also tremendous views for the public. Henderson County currently has no other tasting rooms for specialty health juices. Steve is advertising with extra signage, e-mail and mail lists, and in publications.
Steve currently produces 30,000 gallons of blackberries on 11 acres, and has few avenues for processing berries that are “seconds” due to unfavorable weather conditions. “Having one product places our farm at risk of reduced interest in that product and weather instances that would wipe that crop out,” Steve said. “Also, being a commercial grower, relying on a broker places a farm at the mercy of the marketing group of the broker. Diversification of products and the introduction of a method to produce value-added farm products will help reduce the mentioned risks.”