Rural Missouri - July 2012 - (Page 8)

Chelsea Bader watches a worker empty his basket during the 2011 peach-picking season. Bader Farms employs as many as 110 workers during the peak of the peach harvest. the year. They are assisted by Tom and Steve Bader, Bill’s brothers, cousin Danny and numerous other relatives during the busy summer harvest. During peak operation, Bader Farms, which is served by Ozark Border Electric Cooperative, employs about 110 workers picking fruit and caring for nearly 100,000 trees on 1,100 acres of land. The family hedges its bets with an additional 5,500 acres of row crops. Bill got started picking peaches as a summer job in 1970, working for a man named Roy Risley. “In the summertime, we’d come out and pick peaches to make our spending money so we could buy clothes for school,” Bill recalls. “My senior year, I only went to school half a day, and I worked in the orchard the other half. And then he wanted me to run the orchard when I got out of school.” Roy made Bill a partner in 1982. Four years later, Roy retired and Bill bought him out. The orchard was only 300 acres then. “Every tree we have here now, I planted,” Bill proudly proclaims. At one time, Missouri had 2 million acres in peach and apple orchards, Bill says. Gradually, the old orchards died off and production moved to California, where 80 percent of the U.S. peach crop now is grown. Bader Farms sells peaches at its store north of Campbell and ships to grocery stores and produce stands in a 500-mile radius. Being closer to the market, their peaches get to ripen more before being picked, and there is Bader Farms offers quality peaches by the bag or bushel by Jim McCarty Walking the long rows of trees, he directs his troops like a general. He dispatches one son to pick up parts for a planter. He moves pickers to a new orchard. He offers a wholesale price for a load of peaches. Then he arranges to meet a crop duster at the airport. This is a typical day at Bader Farms, the state’s largest peach orchard and the primary reason Campbell is known as the Peach Capital of Missouri. Bill and his wife, Denise, sons Levi and Cody, and daughter Breana, operate the family farm throughout he sun barely clears the horizon when Bill Bader starts his day at Bader Farms. He’s up to his elbows in a balky water pump, grease-stained hands clutching the pump housing while his brother, Tom, drives home some new bearings. He wipes his hands before greeting two produce stand owners buying a truckload of peaches from his son, Cody. Then he jumps in his truck and heads out to check on a dozen migrant farm workers who are learning how to pick ripe peaches. Before he heads back to the farm’s store, Bill stops to see how a new variety of peach is coming along. He picks a plump orb off one of the many trees and slices it open to reveal the golden fruit inside. He takes a big bite and lets the juice run down his chin. “That’s a good peach,” he says. Bill’s cell phone rings constantly, and the latest intrusion causes him to juggle the peach and his knife while rummaging in his pocket for the infernal device. T Bill Bader chats on his cell phone while inspecting the latest crop of ripening peaches. 8 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2012

Rural Missouri - July 2012
A peach of a place
Quilting for a cause
Corralling the faithful
Out of the Way Eats
Platte City’s jewel
Reeling in the competition
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Rita & Little Ollie
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - July 2012