Family Fun Friday ~ Stone’s Apple Barn and an Organic vs Local Question


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If you live in the QCA and have never been to Stone’s Apple Barn – you’re missing out!


The kids and I headed out there a couple weeks ago with a homeschool group field trip and had a blast! We went there a couple years ago to pick our own apples, but this time we actually toured the facilities and saw how the apples are processed to be sold at area stores.

Our tour consisted of a hay rack ride around the pick your own orchards first. It was a lot of fun and thankfully no one fell off the tractor this time {like Cora did the last time we were there!}

The fall colors were beautiful! We learned about the 50 + apple varieties Stones grows and I learned a few tips for my own apple tress that I planted last year. I was sad to hear that they don’t let their apple trees produce apples for the first SEVEN years after they are planted. The reason makes sense – they want the trees to focus on growing deep roots instead of making fruit. Stone’s made it through our drought this summer without having to water their trees because they have strategically placed ponds around their orchards and because their trees have those great roots!

After our hay rack ride, we toured the apple processing facilities. Stone’s Apple Barn has huge freezers we went in. Brrr – it was cold. I was amazed at the size of this freezer and we didn’t even get to go in the freezer that they said was three times as big! Obviously, keeping the fruit chilled is the key to increasing its shelf life.

We also saw how the apples are treated before they are placed in the ginormous freezers. They are simply polished and bagged for sale or boxed up. They are not washed because removing the protective outer layer of the apple starts the deterioration process, if I remember our lecture correctly! I wish I would have asked if Stones sprays their apples. They are not organic, so I can only assume they do, but I didn’t want to ask that question for some reason. Obviously, it’s important to wash your apples! They are not washed before they’re shipped off to the stores.

We also fed the animals apples. Everyone loves a good apples!

Stone’s Apple Barn has sheep, lamas, miniature donkeys, cows, and chickens. The kids loved them all!

It was a fun morning! I highly recommend heading out there if you’re local!

But here’s my real dilemma: with the eat local and eat organic movements, which do you prioritize? I’ve been ordering organic fruit from Azure Standard, because for around a $1 per pound, the price can’t be beat. BUT that fruit is trucked in from Oregon. Since apples are on the Dirty Dozen list, it’s important to me to eat organic. But it’s also important to me to eat local and that’s where I struggle.

WHAT do you do with the whole organic vs local question?

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. I prioritize organic over local. If I can get it for BOTH great, but what I put in my body is much more important than my carbon footprint. I would rather avoid entirely all those little nasty pesticides and chemicals. You need to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others!

  2. What a fun trip! I try to combine the local with organic. There are not many, but a couple local+organic options around. I’m still trying to figure it out, but I go to Whole Foods too, which brings in local farmers’ stuff and sells it!

  3. I think if I had to choose, I’d get the dirty dozen Organic, and the rest local.. or all local if there were organic options available there.

    That’s just how I’d do it:)

  4. This does look like a fun morning! Love your pictures! I try to buy local and organic, but if I have to make the choice between local or organic from somewhere 1000 miles away, I’ll buy local, with the exception of potatoes. I always buy organic potatoes. It is a dilemma at times.

    1. I also try to buy organic potatoes. And apples – they’re both very dirty according to the Dirty Dozen list…. 🙂

  5. Michelle,
    We have gone to Stone’s every year since my youngest was a baby so almost 13 years now! The Stone’s family is so generous to the community and they remember us from one year to the next. We make a ton of applesauce each year from their jonathan apples.

    1. We’ve been there several times, too. This is my big dilemma…since apples are the DIRTIEST of all produce on the Dirty Dozen list…but it’s the community! It’s tough.