A Family of Farmers
Originally Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012
“Come over on Friday morning, bring a pie plate and we will throw together a fresh peach pie. I am making some for my family,” Linda Fix told me last week. I jumped at the chance to have pickins for the weekend to pick at! And I love peach pie.
“What’s better than two women cooking in the kitchen?” Bob Fix said on his way in from the orchard for lunch as we were peeling our newly tree ripened gems. Bob and I were chatting about the history of Fix Brothers Fruit Farm since 1899 and the fact that every Fix boy was born and raised on the farm for five generations: Bill, Bob Sr., Bob Jr., Gary and David still live on the property today with eight Fix family homes on 450 acres of fruit trees within a one mile radius. The patriarch, Bob Fix Sr. turned 78 years old last week and recently added 20-plus acres of fruit trees (and a grand pumpkin patch) by tilling the land himself!
The Hudson Valley is an apple growing region, number two in the country. The apples grown here are sent all over the world. As a rule, the farmers talk to each other and cooperate so everyone has a fair share whether the harvest is plentiful or scarce, so we thought we would apply the same thinking in our own community.
Like falling down a gourmet rabbit hole I was delighted and mesmerized at the same time. Having been to the Fix Farm in early June just before the start of cherry season, Linda and I took the mule (an automated one!) and traveled through time in a century-old orchard of fruit trees that were the bond, the love and hard work of this family business. Everyone that ever planted, grew, lived or worked on this orchard is surely lucky. Together we picked, tasted, spit pits and chatted about weather, yield and all of the variables that come with farming fruit. It’s all you have ever wanted in a farm tour surrounded by the treasures of sweet ripe cherries, budding pears, peaches, apricots and apples in abundance on the rolling hills at the Fix Brothers Fruit Farm in Hudson.
Last week, I was riding in the pickup through the orchards to try the newest of the apple varieties — the Zestar — and on the floor of the truck I found a Penemeter. I cautiously reached for it and inquired with Bob if he ever leaves home without his Penemeter? “It measures the pressure of fruit,” he told me. Having no idea what that meant and as curious as could be, Bob assured me it wasn’t as interesting as the name. His method? “Chomp into the apple to know when it is ready to pick.” Call it lunch!
Cherry picking started at the Fix Farm in the 70s and has been popular ever since. PYO or PICK YOUR OWN often referred to as U-Pick along the roadside, is mutually beneficial, costs less than retail, is more nutritious than any fruit you buy at a market and more importantly helps the farmer’s bottom line too! Since the fruit gets “one-shot” from bud to apple — if freeze or hail hits like the four minute devastating hail storm from early June — that’s it! Fruit? Finished. Unlike vegetables, you can’t replant the trees and recover the fruit as readily.
“U-Pick is an important part of keeping the farm going and it’s vital for families to know the source of their food — how it’s grown, who grew it and where it comes from,” Linda explained this to me while rolling out our pie crusts. She continued, “Usually U-Pick is never a question — but this year we would love to hear from our community. It’s not possible to pick fruit off the trees in U-Pick areas because they were hit hard by hail,” Linda explained.
Here’s where you come in … “So we were wondering,” Linda and Bob said, “would people, instead of PYO, want to pick up apples from another part of the farm that wasn’t destroyed? Buy in bags and bins even if U-Pick isn’t an option this year?” You can still stroll the orchard, breathe the fresh air and take in the view from the ridge! You can even see the fruit that wasn’t mothered well with storm damage! Pick your perfect pumpkin from thousands or choose from gourds, honey, cider and cider donuts in addition to the many apple varieties.
I said I would ask you, our reader, in our community what you would want to do.
Eating peaches and learning about the Fix Brothers Fruit Farm is something you should do as soon as you have a chance. It’s the real story of succession and a family stroll through the orchards any weekend when fruit is ready to harvest is sure to bring the joy of eating to your own family. As for pie making — they were simple and delicious! I learned not only what makes a peach pie perfect but also that sometimes imperfection is the road to travel on … especially in the business of fruit farmers like the Fix Brothers.
Apple trees like theirs are truly resilient — they come back yearly. But this year the Fix family needs your help. They want to hear from you! Let us know if you would still buy apples locally if you can’t pick the forbidden fruit yourself? Email Linda at FixFarm@aol.com.
All of the favorites will be ready for chomping, bobbing, savoring and an apple pie fix (if I’m invited back?)! Nothing would make me happier. So let us know and meet Linda and Bob Fix. They will make you happy too. Farm On!
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