GREEN Since the early 1960s, customers have gone to Dunlap’s Orchard on South Arlington Road in Green to purchase apples.
After the 2017 fall season, the orchard closed and many of the trees have been removed leaving many people wondering what will become of the property.
Deborah Marino, who is one of the owners of the property along with her siblings, said health issues in their family led to the orchard closing in 2017.
Dunlap’s Orchard originally was a part of the Geig’s Farm, which was run by Julie and Frank Geig who purchased the property in 1928. The Geigs were Marino’s grandparents and they had a dairy farm and grew crops on the 200-plus-acre farm.
At one time, there were approximately 1,600 apple trees on the property, with the majority of them being planted between 1956 and 1958. The orchard once offered 40 different varieties of apples.
Marino’s parents, Charles and Julia Dunlap, purchased the farm in 1963.
Marino said that she, along with her sister, Sheila, and two brothers, Chuck and Thomas, grew up helping at the orchard. She said her parents ran the orchard for more than 40 years. In 1994, her dad died, but her mom continued to run the orchard until she died at the age of 84 in 2006.
“Mom always had her lawn chair and would be talking to customers,” Marino said.
She said her brother, Chuck, took over running the orchard with help from the family through 2017.
Recently, it was decided to take down some of the trees close to South Arlington Road because of their age and the safety of the trees.
The Dunlap’s Orchard property is currently 33 acres, with about 12 acres of the land remaining apple trees. There are still estimated to be approximately 800 dwarf and semi-dwarf trees on the land. Dwarf trees are smaller shorter trees than standard fruit trees.
Some of the land where the old trees were removed will soon serve a new purpose. Nearby Hartong Farm on Killinger Road will farm about 15 acres of the property to grow corn. The corn has already been planted and is slowly starting to grow.
“We all felt we wanted to keep it agricultural,” Marino said.
Matt Hartong who helps his father, Dennis, with the farm is happy to see the land remaining agricultural.
“Best part about the situation is the Dunlaps have no plans to sell it to a developer,” Hartong said. “There’s not a lot of people who are willing to do that today when the price of land is as high as it is within city limits."
When the decision was made to remove some of the trees, Marino said they informed the neighbors, who were relieved to hear the land was going to be farmed and not developed.
“We would really like it if someone would be interested in the orchard or a mixed agricultural use,” Marino said.
There has been some interest in the property, but currently, the owners are not actively pursuing a sale. Dunlap's is just down the street from Kuner's Orchard, which is still in business. The Dunlaps and Kuners are cousins and Marino said they never viewed each other as competition. The two orchards helped each other out and played off one another well she said.
Marino’s husband, Joe, said visiting the orchard was routine for many people with plenty of loyal customers over the years.
“The hardest thing about closing is terminating the relationship with all the people that came here every season,” Joe Marino said.
He and his wife agree the orchard was a place generations of people visited to pick their own apples. Cider was also a big seller among customers and some families would come and have a picnic at the orchard.
“There are a lot of memories associated with the orchard," Deborah Marino said. "My grandmother was the visionary one in the family and thought an orchard would do well here."