Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

CORE VALUES: With apple season in full swing, HOMEGROWN chatted this week with longtime member Jean, who, along with her husband, runs a hobby apple and Christmas tree farm in south-central Wisconsin. It was the kind of conversation we like most: food, growing, food, and food. Take a big bite below and, for more eye candy, don’t miss Jean’s gorgeous photos. Can’t you just taste the crunch?

What is Meet Your Neighbors? We can spend a fair amount of time tending our online gardens, but it’s easy to forget there’s a real person behind every quiche recipe, chicken inquiry, and hoophouse design here on HOMEGROWN. Well, nuts to that! MYN gives us a chance to meet over the back fence and shake hands.

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Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on October 7, 2013 at 9:27am

Hello, Jean! First things first: Thanks for taking the time to chat with HOMEGROWN this morning. Now, you’re writing to us from Wisconsin, about halfway between Milwaukee and Madison. Can you tell us a bit about your area and what you do there? We might have heard a mention of apples …

Comment by Jean Markko Tikusis on October 7, 2013 at 10:02am

Good morning Jennifer! Yes, you are correct about my location. My husband and I have a small hobby farm of 36 acres. We have about 3 acres of apple orchard, a small Christmas tree farm and we rent out 22 acres to a local farmer who grows corn and soybeans.

My husband just retired last month from a career in electronics to follow his passion for growing things. I work in the publishing industry and have supported farm life and homegrown issues.

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on October 7, 2013 at 10:07am

Mmm, apples. They've been on the collective HOMEGROWN brain lately. What varieties do you grow? And this might be a little like asking you to pick a favorite child, but which type do you like best?

Comment by Jean Markko Tikusis on October 7, 2013 at 10:08am

This year marks the first year of an apple yield. And we have a bounty! We sell apples on the roadside of the orchard and my husband built an apple press so we can make cider. It's delicious!

We have a huge selection of apples: of course, Honeycrisp; Jonagold; Cortland; Honeygold; Macoun; Zestar; Sweet Sixteen; Golden Delicious; Ida Reds; Nitney; Suncrisp; Golden Russet; and an heirloom variety - Roxbury to name a few!

My favorite is the Sweet Sixteen because along with the apple taste, it also tastes like cherries!

Comment by Jean Markko Tikusis on October 7, 2013 at 10:14am

This fall, I've canned and froze applesauce, apple pies and apple cider.

Comment by Jean Markko Tikusis on October 7, 2013 at 10:15am

I plan on canning apple pie filling.

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on October 7, 2013 at 10:15am

Congrats on your first yield! And, wow: Between all those delicious-sounding varieties and cider and apple pie and applesauce, we suddenly have a major hankering for apples. How long does apple season last for you? And does Christmas tree season start as soon as apple season winds down?

Comment by Jean Markko Tikusis on October 7, 2013 at 10:19am

The different varieties mature throughout the season beginning in late September through the end of October. Christmas trees are in a cut-your-own field, so people may start as early as November. This is our first year for that too.

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on October 7, 2013 at 10:23am

It’s an awfully big year for you guys. Is there one key tip you’ve learned so far that you’d share with others starting out, apple-wise or tree-wise or just about farming, in general? And/or one thing you'd love to ask others to weigh in on?

Comment by Jean Markko Tikusis on October 7, 2013 at 10:23am

A Boy Scout Troop will be picking apples to donate to their local food pantry. They plan to dehydrate some to use on their future camping trips.


A local vineyard inquired about purchasing cider so they can make apple wine, but w're too small to produce the amount they require.


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