Since our son started school, we’ve had a family tradition for the first day. While at the farmers’ market, he picks out an apple from our friend, Farmer Pete, to give to his teacher. Given that Pete raises more than a dozen different varieties of apples, my son has a lot to choose from. He has his speech memorized as it's been the same since we started. "This is an apple from my friend Farmer Pete." Next September, after today, we can add "whose farm I visit."
Pete Klein owns Seedling Orchards in South Haven, Michigan where he grows a dizzying array of fruits starting the season with rhubarb, ending with apples with berries, pears and melons in between. Within this realm, he's introduced a number of heirloom and uncommon varieties, including the fraise des bois, a tiny, wild Alpine strawberry.
Today, Pete, wife, Stephanie and his two daughters, hosted their annual harvest party. It was a mix of chefs, customers, friends of the couple and friends of the children. Young and old came to pick apples, to throw apples, drink beer, eat lamb and cook s'mores over an applewood fired blaze. Thor particularly enjoyed playing football with the staff of May Street Market and his hay ride with the daughters' friends and with Gale Gand, pastry chef extraordinaire.
Thanks to our gracious hosts, we returned home with a pumpkin, a bushel basket of apples, a bag full of fraises, an armful of applewood, full bellies, dirty pants, and a bunch of pictures, which I want to share here.
The splendor of autumn in Michigan
A windmill and an old barber shop on Pete's orchard.
Bins waiting to be filled
We see a touch of nature: a bird's nest among the apples.