Orchard owner calls it 'best place to be in the fall'
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. -- Vivid autumn colors blown with a soft breeze move through the hills of central Minnesota like waves in the ocean. The crisp air and the promise of a bountiful harvest make one feel like the pages of the storybook have come ...
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. - Vivid autumn colors blown with a soft breeze move through the hills of central Minnesota like waves in the ocean. The crisp air and the promise of a bountiful harvest make one feel like the pages of the storybook have come to life. Nestled in those hills is Collegeville Orchards, Todd and Sherry Beumer's side business and seasonal oasis.
"This is a special place," Todd Beumer said. "It's the best place to be in the fall."
Collegeville Orchards is home to a variety of apples, pumpkins, store and petting zoo under Beumer's operation since 1999.
"I love this (business)," Beumer said. "I wish I could do this year-round."
The store is open Labor Day through the weekend after Halloween. They also attend some farmers' markets and start planning in January. It really is a full-time gig.
"I work in lawn care, and when my wife got a job in Melrose, (Minn.) we decided to move from St. Cloud," Buemer said.
The most important item on their moving list was a place for their horses. They stumbled upon Meyer's Fruit Farm in 1998, and decided to purchase the acreage and orchard with the home.
"We went in cold turkey," Beumer said. "It was existing when we bought it and we've been growing and expanding since then."
Their first season was the fall of 1999.
"I had some background with my lawn care business, on general management of plants and the land," Beumer said. "I also grew up on a small hobby farm nearby."
In the past 20 years, the Beumers have added wagon rides, a pumpkin patch with gourds, corn, straw bales and other fall decorating items. They also have a shop where they sell honey, maple syrup, cider and baking mixes from various local producers.
Their petting zoo is another big attraction with goats, alpacas, a sheep, a cow-calf pair and chickens.
"A lot of people come and make a day of it, so we are sure to offer plenty of activities," Beumer said.
Collegeville Orchards offers live music on weekends throughout the season and hosts a fall harvest festival as well.
"It's fun to see what you can accomplish over a growing season," Beumer said. "It really is a year-round business, we have to start planning our growing season in January."
Being an apple connoisseur, Beumer's personal favorite variety is Connell Red or Sweet Sixteen. His wife, Cherie, likes Sweet Sixteen, Regent and Sweet Tango.
"Most of the apple varieties were already established when we purchased the orchard," Beumer said. "They're all great, but certain ones are more popular like Zestar, Sweet Tango and Honeycrisp."
One of Beumer's favorite parts of his job is interacting with customers from all over.
"Customers come from all over the country," Beumer said. "Even Canada. Last week we had Tennesseans, Texans and Canadians all in the shop."
It is not all out of town business, though.
"We have a loyal local guy who will come in every four or six days and buy a jug of cider,"