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First Lewis County apple orchard opens in Denmark

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DENMARK — There is something sweet in Denmark.

The Denmark Gardens apple orchard has opened for business, becoming Lewis County’s first such operation.

“I’m seeing the fruit of my labors,” said Patsy S. Makuch, owner of the orchard at 10100 Old State Road, across from the Carlowden Country Club. “It can only get better every year, if Mother Nature will leave me alone.”

Mrs. Makuch said she had hoped to offer U-pick apples right away. However, that idea got pushed back for at least one year after a severe storm hit in late July, destroying several trees and damaging others.

“We lost a lot of trees,” she said. “My orchard needs to heal.”

Instead, Mrs. Makuch and her family are picking apples themselves and selling them from a pole barn at the property. The small shop also features pumpkins and squash grown at the orchard, other locally grown vegetables, Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls and barn quilts made by Mrs. Makuch, while a corn maze also has been established, with a cost of $2 per person to navigate it.

The new business is open from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. For more information, call 771-4354 or visit the “Denmark Gardens Apple Orchard” Facebook page.

The new orchard also is slated to be one of the stops on the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Fall Foliage Tour on Oct. 5.

Between the weather damage and early-season customers, much of the initial crop of Zestar apples is already gone, Mrs. Makuch said.

However, several other varieties will be available over the next couple of months as follows: Snowsweet in mid-September, McIntosh, Cortland and Honeycrisp in late September and Spy and Regent in early October.

Mrs. Makuch and her husband, Maxwell J., started the orchard by planting 300 apple trees in 2010, and others have been added in subsequent years to reach a current total of 650.

The initial crop of trees came from Minnesota, so some of the varieties may be more familiar to Midwesterners than to local residents, she said.

After selling off some cows from the couple’s dairy farm and beginning to plan for a transition to the next generation of farm ownership, Mrs. Makuch said, she spent some time working at the Mercer’s Dairy ice cream facility in Boonville, of which Mr. and Mrs. Makuch are part owners.

However, she eventually began looking for an unusual home-based business that she would enjoy.

Given that many local residents travel to Mexico in Oswego County for apples, Mrs. Makuch ultimately decided that an orchard here would fill a niche.

Along with visiting other orchards, the Denmark resident said she consulted with Susan E. Maring, who started up the county’s first winery, Tug Hill Vineyards, in West Lowville.

She also has been working with Zehr’s Flowers and Landscaping in Naumburg, which has supplied many of the newer trees.

While some downstate growers were skeptical that apple trees would grow well in Lewis County, Mrs. Makuch said, she believed differently, noting that an Empire apple tree in their yard had done well for many years.

And, thus far, the orchard has withstood the cold weather very well, she said.

“I haven’t lost a tree in the winter yet,” Mrs. Makuch said.

However, she is kept busy throughout the winter with pruning to bolster the trees’ continued growth.

Mrs. Makuch said she hopes to continue improving operations at the orchard and making additions to the business, possibly even hosting weddings.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said. “Every year, there are decisions to make.”

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