The Rapidian

Sietsema Orchards welcomes this year's harvest with variety, heirloom apples, success

After losing crops in 2012, Sietsema Orchards makes 2013 a fruitful year with a combination of traditional and new.

Sietsema Orchards & Cider Mill

8540 2 Mile Road

Ada, Michigan 49301

October Hours:

Mon-Fri 12p.m.-6p.m.

Saturday 9 a.m.- 6.p.m.

November Hours:

Thurs & Fri 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

Saturday 9.a.m- 6p.m.

Wednesday November 27 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.

 

Contact Sietsema Orchards through their website or facebook.

Sietsema Dinners

Sietsema Dinners

Last year was rough for the Michigan apple business. Many places lost entire crops because of the harsh weather conditions in late Spring. Unseasonably warm weather in early March of 2012 followed by extremely cold freezes just a week later left West Michigan Orchards with barren trees. 

"Michigan was a 90, 95 percent loss last year," says Andy Sietsema, owner of Sietsema Orchards. "There were maybe 10 apples out here."

Sietsema Orchards is a fairly small orchard, not needing many apples, so they were able to maintain business despite the losses of 2012. They recovered from the empty crops by buying apples from an orchard in Belding that was able to salvage almost 50 percent. This year the weather came close to being the same, with some nights in late April dropping down to the 20's. However, the 2013 crop has turned out to be almost opposite from 2012 in terms of apples on the trees.

"My dad's been doing this for a long time, he's never seen anything like last year and he's never seen anything like this year," says Sietsema. "This year's been a record year." 

The Sietsema family business has been in a new location for four years. They moved from their old business, at Knapps Corner, to their new orchards in Ada, Michigan. The new location, with land that's been in their family since the 1970's, runs the same line of business just in a much smaller scope.

"Our big thing is more of a small scale, more intimate setting. We're trying to be as self-sustainable as possible," says Sietsema.

Sietsema hosts dinners at their orchard, sharing their intimate setting with the public. Sietsema Orchards bring in different chefs, such as Tory O'HaireMolly Clauhs and chefs from Suburba, who serve up to seven course meals and source as much of the food as possible from local businesses and produce. The dinners can be hosted inside or outside, depending on the weather. 

Sietsema has other new aspects to their apple business.They regularly have three hard ciders available, and once in a while also sell their ginger cider. Two years ago, in 2011, one of their sweet ciders won first place in the annual Michigan cider contest. One thing unique about their cider is their use of heirloom apples, which Sietsema says are great for hard and sweet cider.

"Heirlooms are apples from the 17- and 1800s hundreds that have not been genetically modified for taste or looks," says Sietsema. This year has been their first decent harvest for heirlooms. 

"A lot of the heirloom apples are pretty good," says Sietsema, "we kind of educate the public on them and break them into ‘em. Spitzenburg was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple, planted in Monticello. Ribston Pippin has more Vitamin C than an orange does. Stuff like that." Sietsema Orchards will bring some of their heirloom apples to this year's Fork Fest.   

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