RENSSELAER FALLS — Steven L. and Gayle M. Fobare, with help from family and friends, have spent the past three years planting and growing an orchard and vineyard at their 180 Johnson Road home.
The goal, according to the couple, is to establish a new business — Fobare’s Fruits — and to help supply the north country with quality locally grown fruit.
Mr. Fobare, a dairy farmer for 20 years before getting into the construction and asphalt business, and Mrs. Fobare, a 24-year food service employee at St. Lawrence University, Canton, soon will have apples for sale and a U-pick orchard.
“We’re looking at about the third week in September,” Mr. Fobare said of when apples would be ready. “We’ll have fruit for sale here, as well as U-pick on the weekends.”
The Fobares launched the idea in 2009 and, according to Mr. Fobare, 4,000 trees have been planted on 10 acres of land.
“Right now, we have about 3,600 apple trees, with the other 400 consisting of cherries, plums and peach trees,” he said. On top of that, Mr. Fobare said, 500 grapevines and 1,200 raspberry and blackberry bushes also have been planted.
The couple hopes to establish a home-site location in Rensselaer Falls, as well as provide their fresh fruit to local school districts and retail stores.
“We’re currently looking at about 20 varieties, including three kinds of Macs, Jonagolds and Honeycrisps,” Mr. Fobare said, adding that another 5 acres, approximately 2,000 trees, will be planted in the spring, bringing the total to 25 varieties next season.
A “new” way of planting, developed within the past 20 years, according to Mr. Fobare, has allowed the couple to expedite the process of growing apples.
“It’s referred to as high-spindle planting,” he said, explaining that placing the apple trees on a trellis system, with cedar posts and high-tencel guide wires supporting the tree trunks and limbs, much like grape growing, has made for more efficient and higher-density growing.
Trees are spaced 4 to 8 feet apart in neatly organized rows, with 16 feet between each row.
“It consists of 350 to 700 trees per acre,” Mr. Fobare said. “Most are semi-dwarves, with 8 feet of spacing, while full-dwarves get only 4.”
He said the right root stalks, graphed together for the area’s climate and soil conditions, coupled with the high-spindle approach, have meant a world of difference.
“The trellis system provides us with more control,” he said. “It’s like a wall of trees — more efficient for spraying, trimming and picking.”
“Without supporting a tree by stake or wire, it needs much more trimming to allow the root system to grow. This way, the trees will fruit one to two years sooner,” he said.
Eventually, the couple hopes to expand the business into a family-friendly destination for locally grown goodness.
“The plan is for a playground, a pumpkin patch and wagon rides,” Mr. Fobare said. “We will have a store featuring local products, everything from fruits and vegetables to cider, maple syrup and honey. Possibly some items from local crafters and artisans.”
Those interested in more details or to check on the availability of apples should call the Fobares at 344-1207 or 528-0052.