Crab apples were the only apples growing reliably in Minnesota before the mid-1800s, but years of experimentation and tree losses from harsh winters have resulted in our state producing some of the most flavorful and unique apples you will find. A short growing season and variable pest problems in local apple orchards make Midwestern organic apples rather rare. We are fortunate to be in partnership with orchards that are either certified organic or using high standards of integrated pest management and bee-friendly applications.
Whistling Well Farm
Whistling Well Farm is an apple orchard located in the St. Croix River Valley. The orchard was planted in 1972 by Carol and Charlie Johnson and their sons, and it now grows a selection of Minnesota’s favorite apple varieties, such as SweeTango, Honeycrisp, Haralson and Zestar. Through a partnership with Cornell University and by practicing integrated pest management, Whistling Well is committed to sustainable and bee-friendly orchard management.
In 1971, after years of working in the family orchards with his father during the 1960s, Jim Barnard was ready to buy his first farm. He purchased an orchard in Illinois, where he was introduced to organic farming. The environmentally responsible, homegrown business flourished over the seven years he owned it. In 1976, Jim and his wife Crystal left Illinois for Egg Harbor, Wis., to transform a 30-acre dairy farm into a sustainably managed orchard. Over the past 40 years, they have grown their orchards to more than 70 acres. They now collaborate with their son on the management of the orchard and the business.
Here are some popular varieties you'll see throughout the season:
Flavor Profile: Honeycrisp apples are sweet with a trace of acidity and little depth or complexity. There can also be essences of pear-drop flavor.
Uses: Eat raw, salad, cooking
Flavor Profile: Regent apples offer a dose of honey flavor and plenty of acidity with a crisp juicy flesh.
Uses: Eat raw, cooking
Flavor Profile: Haralson apples have an excellent, distinctive, tart flavor and are very crisp and juicy.
Uses: Eat raw, pies, cider
Flavor Profile: Red Delicious apples are crisp and juicy—not too sweet, not too tart.
Uses: Eat raw