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About Us

Our dad was a farmer and mom was a gardener. Did we even have a chance?

Hi, I’m Matt. I created and run Minneopa Orchards with my brother Ryan. He’s the website and technology expert, but he’s run a number of backyard garden & orchard experiments himself!

In 2009 when my wife and I moved to the country with our four children (now eight!), I didn’t have to think twice. We tilled the ground to plant a garden and started planting apple trees.

A Family Affair

Growing our own food has always been a family affair. The kids work to plant, weed, harvest and ENJOY the crop. They love it.

Everyone has their own favorites too. Tristan always loved sunflowers and pole beans because they grow so tall.

Another kid loves eggplant and radishes. One loves to pick raspberries (even with the mosquitos we have in the summer – she gets all bundled up even though it’s 85 out!).

The three little boys look forward to planting peas every spring. And they love picking plums when it’s time to finally take everything that’s left. (And mom & dad love the plum wine from the Mount Royal plums!)

My 16 year old daughter recently planted all the seedlings for the year with me.

We (my wife and I) want the kids to learn how to work, be outside, and understand where food actually comes from.

The Garden

This is where it started for us. It’s 35’x37′ – so almost 1400 sq ft of space.

In year one, I learned that even our family can’t eat 18 zucchini plants’ worth of zucchini (that’s zucchini on the right in the picture below). We learned that watermelon (foreground, same picture) doesn’t grow well in the rich clay-based soil we have here. Well, it grows just fine – it just doesn’t grow WATERMELONS!

We learned about spacing plants – how little they are to start can be so deceiving. Especially the tomatoes. I planted them so close together that when they started to get some disease it ran through and ravaged them VERY quickly.

We’ve settled in on what grows best here in Minnesota. We plant a lot of tomatoes, swiss chard, kale, green peppers, bush beans, peas, beets, squash, cucumbers, and rhubarb. We’ve tried 100 other things, but those are the staples.

Lettuce is great, but it’s all ready at the same time. The chard and kale are amazing because they produce all summer and into the fall.

The squash doesn’t need to use up valuable garden space. We can plant those on the edge and let them grow out into the grass. Mid-summer to fall harvests happen on Saturday mornings, and everybody gets a bucket and an assignment.

Apples

I fell in love with apples not because of the fruit, but rather the trees. I love pruning and caring for the trees. Shaping them into the most productive and healthy version of themselves is one of my favorite spring activities.

My love for the trees is what led me and my wife to seriously consider buying an orchard, but the opportunity to turn a hobby into a commercial venture eventually dwindled and that dream evolved into this website, Minneopa Orchards.

Now, that’s not to say we don’t have a lot of trees and fruit to deal with. We have 14 apple trees (Honeycrisp, Honey Gold, Zestar, McIntosh) and 4 plum trees (Mount Royal, Toka, Superior).

One particular harvest was a bit excessive and led us to plan a little differently for future years!

Additionally, I have an experimental hard cider orchard with over 60 unique varieties that are ideal hard cider. These trees are just reaching maturity and should give my boys plenty of work over the coming years. The idea is to let them tend to and sell the apples to local craft brewers looking for some really unique varieties.

Maple Syrup

Our farm is covered in maple trees, so of course, spring time is maple syrup season.

When I was a teenager I tried making maple syrup with sap from some silver maple trees. I used a Coleman camp stove and a propane tank. I nearly burned my dad’s shop down; he was none too pleased!

I’ve taught the kids to evaluate and tap the trees themselves. These days I don’t even need to get out to do the tapping with them.

At one point when my oldest was tapping multiple neighbors’ trees and making 35-40 gallons of maple syrup each year, we even made a reverse osmosis system to help get through the sap faster.

The syrup is done when it gets about 7-8 degrees F above the boiling point of water. Then it comes in the house for filtering and canning.

Vineyard & Wine

In 2012 I planted 34 Marquette vines in hopes of someday making wine. It’s been an incredible learning experience. there are a lot of things working against the northern grape vine – humidity, bugs, disease, & cold!

That said, we’ve had some good years. It’s always a family affair. Grandpa is good manager and enjoys the wine – and the grandkids!

A couple years ago I added another 90 vines – Petite Pearl, Frontenac, and Crimson Pearl – to the vineyard. More work, yes, but we love it. One of my daughters got really good with the Tapener tool this spring and enjoyed working behind me taping up the vines after I made all the right cuts.

Most nights you can find me and my wife with a couple glasses of red wine. I make some white wine, but it usually ends up as gifts – because why drink white when red exists?!?

Share Our Passion

So why share all of this? Why open the family photo album?

Because this is our passion. And we want to share that passion with you!

Apples

Plums

Lemons

Other Fruits

Fruit Recipes

We have hundreds of fruit recipes for you to browse through, each one made and tested by our own recipe team. Check out all the delicious recipes here.

Apple Orchards in Your State

Looking for a fun apple orchard to spend the day at with your family, we have compiled lists of our picks for the best apple orchards in almost every state. You can check them all out here.

NOTE: We are not the orchard named “Minnetonka Orchards” located in Minnetrista, MN. If you are looking for them, please go here: https://minnetonkaorchardmn.com/