By Jen Bakken
Beginning as 250 apple trees planted on 50th Street and a small apple cart alongside the road soon became 10,000 trees with 29 Minnesota apple varieties a place now well-known in the area as Apple Jack Orchard.
Kit and Mike Dekarski, as well as Kit’s parents, Jack and Leah Kelly, didn’t initially envision the orchard as it is today.
“When we were planting the first few apple trees, we just thought we were going to just have a little hobby,” laughed Kit Dekarski. “And look at us 25 years later.”
She attributes a big part of their beginning successes to the help of her father, Jack, who is ultimately why the business is known as Apple “Jack” Orchard.
“My dad was a big factor in the orchard,” she said. “It’s neat for him at 81 years old to see what the orchard has become, and see that we are still hanging in there.”
The orchard is doing more than just hanging in there in fact, it has continued to grow each year. The orchard is certified by the Food Alliance, a sustainable farm organization made up of farmers that use safe, responsible, minimal-impact farming practices.
They’ve recently added a large oven to bake more of their own treats, and they host dinners, weddings and holiday parties, all of which prolong its season and help when poor weather is an issue.
Along with offering gift cards, a rewards card has been instituted to help their loyal customers earn points towards a 10 percent discount.
With the apple and berry farm, bakery and lunches, pumpkin patch, wagon rides, animals, gifts, crafts, and corn maze, Apple Jack Orchard offers a family-friendly fun experience.
Each year, the corn maze has a different theme with this year’s theme being the orchard’s 25th anniversary celebration. The Dekarskis have hired the Maize company from Utah to use precision in creating their corn mazes for the past four years.
Those who enter the maze can use a passport to answer questions at different stops to help them maneuver through the maze. Two large bridges add even more excitement to the maze.
Every Saturday evening through October, the orchard is open until 10 p.m. for flash light nights in the maze, and families can enjoy hot dogs and hot cider. Groups are welcome to reserve the maze as well.
“We will have specials throughout the season to celebrate our 25th year,” she said, and she encourages the community to celebrate with them.
Apple Jack Orchard will also be sponsoring the biggest and prettiest pumpkin contest with the Upper Midwest Giant Pumpkin Growers, Sunday, Sept. 28, from 1 to 4 p.m. Prizes will be awarded for the biggest five pumpkins and the prettiest pumpkin.
For more information, visit www.applejackorchards.com or call (763) 972-6673.