March 2022 - 7

Over 37,000 Wind Machines Sold Worldwide!
" We are always planting and testing new varieties of all fruit and berries always
looking for the juiciest, best tasting varieties that can be grown here on the eastern
slope of the Appalachian Mountain Range " said Robert Black, co-owner of Catoctin
Mountain Orchard.
terraces. Our wagons are used for
pick-your-own apples. All of our
county officials know us. I always
take fruit to the meetings. We think
we're a vital part of Frederick County.
" We haul our pick-your-own people
out to the field, " Black said. " When we
don't have some varieties, we'll take
a bin wagon out there with a couple
different varieties that we may have
harvested earlier just to give the folks
another variety to pick from. If you
don't grow Crimson Crisp for pick
your own, you should really try it. It's a
really good variety.
At check-in, the U-pick business sells
bags to customers to put the produce in
when they are in the orchards.
" For u-pick, the pandemic forced us
to go to boxes. We put the scales away,
we'll never go back. Our apple bags are
a half peck. We were charging $32 a
half bushel. Don't be afraid to charge
because you are getting some waste.
" We don't check (customers) out. We
already have our money. It's also a $3
admission and the wagon ride is free.
Strawberries are picked by my men
so we have fresh strawberries in the
" We grow apricots, plums up here
(pointing to a photo of the hilly
terrain), " Black said. " We have some
peaches and a few apples on some real
steep ground. We have about 25 acres
of apples, 25 acres of peaches and then
cherries, grapes, blackberries. We
grow lettuce in our own hydroponictype
" We keep changing. We grow a lot
of pears. We are lucky at the moment.
We're hoping our neighbors stay.
They're parents have died and they are
renting the farm out. "
Among the vegetables the farm
sells is lettuce made from Black's
homemade hydroponic system.
" I saw this out in Michigan and we
changed it, " Black said. " They're on
the ground, and we raised it up. I got
some blocks from my neighbor who is
a hauler. He got me four cubes of blocks
for $150. I bought a water trough from
Tractor Supply, and we have a fish pump
from Lowe's. It all works pretty good.
" We're cutting that lettuce small,
and bagging it just like that. People
don't like head lettuce, they want it
done so they can shake it out. We put
shade cloth over the greenhouse to be
able to run it through the summer. "
A family endeavor
Bob said his son, Chris, " takes care
of things, a lot of the field work, " he
said. " I have eight guys, including a
couple of regulars. We're still working
with H-2A, which is a challenge. "
Bob's family, including his sister,
Patricia, and wife, Fran, and other
family members play an active role
in the operation of the farm and
" It's a team effort. All of my family
and staff members do the work and
make me look good ... I've got to
mention my family including my son,
Christopher, who represents the third
generation along with granddaughters
Katlyn and Kylie (Robertson), the
fourth generation, who all help work
this orchard. "
Since its inception, the farm
has had a close relationship with
University of Maryland horticultural
Bob points to visits to the orchard
from the University of Maryland's
Extension Specialist Ben Rogers and
University of Maryland Professor of
Horticulture Arthur Thompson in
the late 1970s where they suggested
See CATOCTIN, page 8
FGN | MARCH 2022 | 7
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March 2022

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