Buffalo Ridge Orchard

Type: Orchard

Produces: Apples

Location: Central City, IA

Miles from Coop: 24

Buffalo Ridge Orchard was started with the planting of its first apple tree in 2003. This planting began the transition of a traditional, 80-acre agricultural farm to one that supplies healthy local produce.

Buffalo Ridge orchard has over 50 different types of new and classic apple varieties.

It is located at the top of Buffalo Ridge, just outside of Central City, Iowa. The landscape is picturesque – so calm and serene that all you can hear are songbirds and the leaves of 3,600 apple trees rustling in the breeze.

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Farmer Emma Johnson’s mom started the orchard with the romantic memory of a heritage apple tree from her grandmother’s farm as her inspiration. Each year, the family adds more trees to the orchard, allowing them to grow their business slowly, at a comfortable pace. Emma; her husband, Marcus; her parents; and a few others all work the land. Buffalo Ridge Orchard is a labor of love.

Of special interest is Emma’s favorite mid-season apple, Sweet 16 (also known as Song of September). It is an especially sweet, crisp, and crunchy apple with hints of cherry she can smell as she harvests them. Marcus is fond of the Swiss Gourmet variety. It has a nutty flavor, and pairs extremely well with cheese. Try it with Milton Creamery Prairie Breeze!

Emma says,

“The best thing about being an apple farmer is that, unlike a ripe tomato, [an apple] doesn’t have to be picked right now. It can wait until tomorrow. It is a nice pace.”

Their motto is “growing quality local produce responsibly”, which includes continually modifying and updating their management practices.

Every year, they work to fine-tune practices and systems to conserve soil and resources through an integrated pest management system. Iowa is a tough place to have an organic orchard, with the rain and humidity. They use organic practices such as crop rotation, cover crops, cultivation, hand weeding, and organic sprays (when necessary). In early spring, they do use a minimal amount of conventional spray before the trees blossom.

One way they are trying to combat summer pests is to encourage beneficial insects in perimeter native prairie plantings. After the apples are picked, they wash them in an organic solution (peroxide and vinegar). They do not dip their apples in a post-harvest fungicide dip or wax their apples.

Buffalo Ridge apples are delicious and have such a great flavor.

I’ve not found one I didn’t like, and I’m looking forward to putting some away for a tasty apple pie or apple crisp this winter!


Buffalo Ridge Orchard Products

Checkout these great products from Buffalo Ridge Orchard

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Galarina Apples

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Fuji Apples

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Winecrisp Apples

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Cameo Apples


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Be sure to check out these others great local producers!

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