BUTLER TWP. — Still a couple of weeks away from all-clear frost dates, the apple trees at Monnin Fruit Farm aren’t yet sagging with fruit, but the Monnins have begun hanging flower baskets in front of their stand next to their white house on 8201 Frederick Pike.
The parking lot is receiving a resurfacing as well.
“We want the place to look nice and let people know we’re open, or ready to open,” said 80-year-old Roger Monnin, who has owned the property with his wife, Phyllis, since 1962. The couple bought it from Russell Stoner, who used to operate a similar business in this north Dayton suburb still dotted with small farms, or at least farm houses.
While not every fruit and vegetable is available yet, what the Monnin’s have is fresh and runs the gamut from apples and (in June) strawberries to rhubarb, green onions, cabbage, beans and peas.
What they do not grow they buy fresh from other nearby farmers to sell at their stand, including Amish cheeses and meats and fruit pies from Stevens Bakery near Springfield, as well as sweet corn.
“There aren’t enough of us anymore,” said Phyllis, who said the family of five daughters and two sons has about 30 acres with apple, peach, pear and plum trees, a large strawberry patch and raspberries, among other edibles.
“In June, when it’s strawberry season, we’re busy,” Phyllis said. “And in August, with peaches. I couldn’t tell you how many people stop by, but during the week, it takes three to four of us up here to keep the market going.”
Part of the business involves “pick your own” fruit, but the real lure is to buy the freshest produce possible, although customers’ habits have changed.
“The younger generation aren’t into canning and freezing, that kind of stuff,” Phyllis said.
Their son, Glenn, said the farm has 700 apple trees and 400 peach trees, and he and his brother, Nick, (and the rest of the family) have to prune each one in the off-season, and that could mean between 100 and 200 cuts per tree. They have to beware of late frosts and recently lost 11 of their 24 bee hives, essential to pollinating the plants.
Still, this looks like a good fruit year.
“I think we’ve got the prettiest strawberry patch around,” Roger Monnin said.
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