There are a lot of apples just waiting to be picked !
If you're like most people, you probably go to the supermarket, pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables, and don't really give a second thought to where they came from.
But farms are our nation's backbone, and here in Niagara County, fields and orchards abound, providing fresh produce to Western New York and well beyond. But there's something else growing here, too...a bounty of knowledge just waiting to be harvested.
Murphy Orchards in Burt, New York has been an established farm since 1807, when the McClew family, one of the first European settlers to the area, discovered the fertile soil of what is now Niagara County.
The family successfully worked the land for four generations, but lived through some hard times as well. Surviving skirmishes in the war of 1812 and aiding slaves through the Underground Railroad. Throughout it's long history, the McClew family's contributions to the region extended far beyond the annual harvest.
Farm owner Carol Murphy tells 2 The Outdoors, "They were very innovative, they were responsible for bringing Cornell University into this area to teach farmers innovative, profitable and good ways of growing fruit, so, the legacy that the McClews and other early settlers have left here, agriculture is still the number one industry in Niagara County."
The proud traditions fostered by the McClew Family continue to influence the farm today. Carol Murphy, the farm's owner for over three decades, believes that a farm should be more than just the food growing there.
Murphy explains, "That's our function here is to educate people to the purpose of agriculture, to the wisdom of farmers, and how all these things interrelate, and how morality is all tied up in that."
The farm practices what it preaches, offering educational tours like this one taken recently by young students of the Kadimah School in Buffalo.
In a time when society has lost much of it's connection to the Earth, passing on the age old wisdom of farming is the first step in sowing the seeds of knowledge critical to the future of humanity. For many who visit, the realization of the importance of farming can be a revelation.
Says Murphy, "It's a concept that they really can't comprehend at first, and not just the children, a lot of time it's their parents, too, just cannot comprehend that this is where food comes from...they've just never thought of it before."
Wayne Robins is the parent of one of the Kadimah kids who took the tour. He agrees with Murphy, "I don't think they realize where a lot of foods come from."
"I believe that it's of great importance for them to realize where it's grown, how it's picked, and how it's produced."
Robin, another Kadimah parent adds, "I thought it was important to bring my daughter out here so she could start learning at a young age about the farms and what goes on and seeing it and appreciating it."
And that magic is cultivated on farms across the nation, every day, every hour....keeping the world fed and healthy. For Murphy, the yearly crop reaps much more than just apples and peaches, it's a harvest that surpasses physical nourishment, one that feeds the spirit as well.
"We have a young man that came last month," explains Murphy. "(He) told me that he had gone into a branch of zoology or horticulture simply because he used to come here as a child, and we lit a spark in him, and that makes my place on earth worthwhile, that's all the reward I need."
Murphy Orchards is open until December 31st, and there's lots of fruit out there left to pick! You can find more information on their website: www.murphyorchards.com