Timeless Prairie Orchard

Type: Orchard

Produces: Apples

Location: Winthrop, IA

Miles from Coop: 55

Dave and Susie, Timeless Prairie Orchard

Dave and Susie Differding know their apples and love sharing the fruits of their education with you in the form of each shiny, delicious fruit.

Their orchard, overlooking the rolling hills of Buchanan County on property that’s been in the family for 4 generations, utilizes their extensive research and technology for the most effective water use and Integrated Pest Management to produce their beautiful and delicious Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon-winning apples.

Located on top of a sunny hill, Timeless Prairie is surrounded on all sides by sweeping views of Iowa farmland. It is the perfect place for an orchard.

Though, Susie and Dave hadn’t always planned to have an orchard there. It wasn't until 2001 when Susie and Dave visited Susie’s mom’s farm, and it stirred her passion for gardening and drove thoughts of possibly being the 4th generation to work that land.

Dave and Susie live in Chicago. Well, they live there most of the year, where they toil away as commercial interior designers.

Avid horticulturists on the side, they had great fun visiting orchards and vineyards, taking workshops and classes.

They found joy on the weekends participating in a group called Midwest Fruit Explorers. They loved digging in the dirt and experimenting with new varieties of plants, and started their own mini orchard in their back yard with 5 varieties of dwarf trees.

Their 'ah-ha' moment arrived:

They could take their passion for fruit trees and turn a hobby into a business.

There is a big difference between hobby and business, however.

Hobbies cost money; businesses have to make money.

So, Dave and Susie got serious.

They graduated from Michigan State's Integrated Pest Management program, where they studied all things necessary for a quality orchard, like pest management, drip irrigation techniques, and appropriate balancing and thinning strategies.

In 2003, they consulted the Farmer's Almanac, and ordered their trees. When they announced that they’d consulted the Farmer's Almanac for April and scheduled delivery of their root stock for the 4 day period that the Almanac predicted would be dry, the old-time farmers around them laughed.

But wouldn't you know it?

Those were the only 4 days in all of April that were dry!

They were in luck!

They planted their first Honeycrisp trees in 2003.

And they waited. 

And they waited...

It wasn’t until 2007 when they got their first crop that they knew they were onto something big!

Susie drove a big box of their delicious apples to Charlie Trotter's famous kitchen in Chicago and his pastry chef went nuts!

He hooked Susie up with other famous Chicago restaurateurs and pastry chefs, and they had a swift little delivery business going.

They started to plant more and more trees – 600 dwarf variety fruit trees to an acre, and they have 7 acres! They grow over 20 varieties of apples in all.

Apple growing isn't as easy as planting a tree, setting up the irrigation, and sitting back and waiting, however. "Sure, it takes passion," says Dave.

"People don’t realize how much planning it takes to grow the best apples.”

There is a lot of work in balancing the trees, and culling the fruit load. We, the apple eaters, like our apples sweet and juicy, but we also want them round and big.

To achieve the perfect apple, they have to thin out a few apples from each grouping on every tree. They examine the apples for spots, and leave only the best to ripen. They do all of this by hand.

It is a labor of love.

On the summer day when we visited Dave and Susie, that is just what they were doing: Thinning the apples to ensure that the trees would produce just the right apples for us.

The product of all this education, labor, and love is what we get to celebrate as we bite into Iowa’s BEST Blue Ribbon winning Honeycrisps!

Other Local Producers

Be sure to check out these others great local producers!

Hedge Apple Kombucha

Hedge Apple Kombucha

Lindsey and Kyle operate their kombucha micro-brewery with sustainability and harmony with the land in mind. Using locally sourced medicinal plants, they aim to celebrate 1-2 ingredients in their recipes.

Fairfield, IA

Maestro Empanadas

Maestro Empanadas

When Christian Bejarano and Marta Hamity moved to Iowa from Argentina, they had trouble finding their favorite food: the empanada. They got cooking and quickly earned a cult following.

Coralville, IA

Oasis Street Food

Oasis Street Food

When owners Naftaly and Ofer were unable to find the Mediterranean food they craved and grew up with, they decided to use their own family recipes to bring authentic falafel and hummus to Iowa City.

Iowa City, IA

Cedar Witch Goods

Cedar Witch Goods

Katie's handmade soaps are made from scratch in small batches using high quality ingredients like aloe vera, cocoa butter, and mango butter.

Cedar Rapids, IA

Blues Best Mushrooms

Blues Best Mushrooms

Blues Best Mushrooms is a family-owned specialty mushroom company in Eastern Iowa that supplies fresh mushrooms to the Co-op including Shitake, Oyster, and Lion's Mane.

Vinton, IA

Echo Dell Farm

Echo Dell Farm

Calvin Yoder of Echo Dell Farm has been raising whole, local, organic chickens for New Pi since 1988.

Kalona, IA

Old Capitol Tofu

Old Capitol Tofu

Jake, Matthew, and the gang at Old Capitol Food Co. make their local organic tofu in Iowa City with organic Iowa soybeans and pure, reverse osmosis water for the freshest, cleanest tasting tofu around.

Iowa City, IA

Thousand Hills Cattle Co.

Thousand Hills Cattle Co.

Thousand Hills sources beef from small Midwestern independent family farms that must meet the most stringent requirements around.

Cannon Falls, MN