Jackson’s Orchard remains seasonal community staple

In addition to its famous apples, Jackson’s Orchard grows peaches and cherries. The land has been an orchard for more than 100 years and grows 15 types of apples. Tanner Cole/HERALD

Anna Lawson

It’s the time of year when the leaves are changing color, pumpkins are being sold in supermarkets and people are making their way, in droves, to Jackson’s Orchard for cider slushes, baked goods and orchard-grown produce.  

However, running the 105-acre farm is not all fun and games. It’s a business for owner Bill Jackson. He, along with the other workers, put an abundant amount of time and labor into the farm year-round, not just during the fall season.

“It is a different job every season. That makes it fun,” he said. “It takes lots of hard work and lots of people.”

Whether it is pruning one of the orchard’s 7,000 trees or packaging apples for the orchard’s store, the employees work the entire year to create a place for the whole family to enjoy. 

Annette Madison is one of the many hands helping on Jackson’s Orchard. Madison has been working at the orchard for 10 years.

“I love watching all the people enjoy themselves here,” she said.

Madison said she hopes to continue to see the orchard grow as it has in the past. 

“I just hope it gets bigger and better,” she said. 

Jackson, along with his wife, Shirley, bought the land back in 1966 and have been running the 100-year-old orchard ever since. 

The Jacksons purchased the land from Ed Hudgens, an 89-year-old farmer. Back then, the orchard’s landscape was vastly different from how it looks today.

“We bought it, and there were no buildings. It was just a one-lane gravel road,” Jackson said.

The biggest challenge they faced starting out was finding workers. Jackson said the labor is hard work and requires many people to keep the orchard running.

“It is always a problem,” Jackson said. “There is so much work to do.”

Along with keeping the grounds and tending to the apple trees and other fruits and vegetables, Jackson’s employees tend to the crowd-drawing aspects of the orchard.

The orchard has farm animals, swings, a bouncy house and a hay bale maze to draw in more customers of all ages. The Jacksons strive to make the orchard a place the whole family will enjoy. 

“This is a family-oriented place,” Jackson said. “It is a nonalcoholic, Christian, farm. Everyone can enjoy themselves.”

The orchard has a small store where orchard-goers can purchase cider, flowers, jams and pumpkin bread. 

Each year, the Jacksons and their employees try and add something new, even if it is just a small addition. 

“We add something to the playground every year. This year, it was the sandbox,” Bill Jackson said. “We also expanded our kitchen.”

Jackson said the people who explore the orchard, buy the goods and enjoy the attractions are his favorite part of running the orchard.

“People are fun. You have to love people,” he said. “98 percent of them you love, and 2 percent you don’t.”

Jackson takes pride in watching all the families come through the orchard and likes being able to talk to them all.

“Sometimes, I like to go park the cars so that I can talk to people,” he said. “I like seeing the kids pulling on their mom’s sleeves when they don’t want to leave.”