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Greenhouses Lead to Fresh Produce

The smell of fresh mulch pervades one’s nostrils and eyes behold splashes of reds, golds, and oranges: a palette mirroring the region’s autumn leaves on display inside the greenhouses at Rulf’s Orchard. A staple in the region for over 50 years, the orchard offers numerous activities like rides to their pumpkin patch and corn maze in the fall, picking 12 different types of apples and Christmas tree cutting for the holidays. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are available at Rulfs’ roadside stand, and a year-round bakery offers decadent donuts and other homemade treats. Rulfs 54 acres of farmland consisting of mainly…

The smell of fresh mulch pervades one’s nostrils and eyes behold splashes of reds, golds, and oranges: a palette mirroring the region’s autumn leaves on display inside the greenhouses at Rulf’s Orchard.

A staple in the region for over 50 years, the orchard offers numerous activities like rides to their pumpkin patch and corn maze in the fall, picking 12 different types of apples and Christmas tree cutting for the holidays. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are available at Rulfs’ roadside stand, and a year-round bakery offers decadent donuts and other homemade treats. Rulfs 54 acres of farmland consisting of mainly apple trees can be seen by those driving on I-87, just off exit 35, in Peru, New York.

Greenhouses are complexes built specially to grow plants and vegetables in all seasons. They are often made out of different media such as glass or plastic. Greenhouses can be built with specialized heating, cooling or lighting elements. The first wooden greenhouse was constructed in 1985 but was taken down in the following years because it was too small. The orchard has since increased its greenhouses to a total of eight structures made of plastic and piping instead.

“We currently have five greenhouses dedicated to flowers, one dedicated to vegetables and our newest greenhouse, the high tunnel greenhouse,” says Trista Sheehan, a staff member at Rulfs Orchard.

The high tunnel greenhouses house raspberries and vegetables. The different points of frames in the high tunnel greenhouse create longer ground posts that make the greenhouse higher. The high greenhouse coupled with sides that roll up and down allows for more control of the temperature. This, in turn, allows for a longer growing period and provides weather and insect protection. The simplicity and effectiveness of greenhouses are what makes them popular among growers, says Produce Manager Linda Facteau.

 

The nearly endless assortment of flowers, vegetables, and fruits at Rulfs can leave anyone tired. For customers’ convenience benches are placed around the greenhouse. (Teah Dowling)
Besides selling apples, Rulfs Orchard also offers customers a variety of flowers. (Teah Dowling)

Most of Rulfs Orchard’s profit comes from the greenhouses, which attract double the customers in the spring. Sheehan says they try to open all the greenhouses to the public by Mother’s Day, which is why they employ a dedicated crew that begins planting in January and then transplanting in early February.

Chateauguay resident Sarah Gardiner is one of Rulfs Orchard’s loyal customers. “Rulfs Orchard, since I was 5 years old, has been a tradition for my family; we go every fall for the apples and every spring for the greenhouses,” Gardiner says. “It is an experience to walk through the greenhouses and admire the beauty that these products can create,” Gardiner says that her family added the spring trip just a few years ago when they found out about the greenhouses.

Produce in the greenhouses, such as tomatoes, onions, cukes, eggplants, peppers, and raspberries, are available to customers before the usual harvest time in mid to late summer. The greenhouses also offer herb and vegetable bagged up to go called “grab-n-go veggies”, which are convenient for customers who want a mix of products.

The green-thumbed workers also offer landscaping advice, help customers plant everything from flowers to herbs in their homes and deliver to homes in the area.

These extra elements make the trip to Rulfs an experience rather than just a pit stop. Facteau says what makes the greenhouses so unique is that Rulfs’ employees put their heart and soul into perfecting these plants. “It is easy to see for yourself when visiting our greenhouses,” Facteau says,” that our plants respond to the love and labor that go into making them beautiful and healthy.”

Written by Claire Durham and Solina Frank
Issue 5: Summer/Fall 2015

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