Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 13

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by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop
B
randt Schisler had a void. The condo he and his
wife, Kelsey, owned in Colorado just wasn't the
same as the traditional rural farm he and his brother
ran around growing up. It was tight quarters
with not much of a yard to speak of.
" Ultimately I had this deep, burning feeling that I wanted
to return back to farming, " he says. " I missed it. That's
when it hit me about eight or nine years ago that we had to
make a change. "
The Schislers scratched that itch and in 2018 opened
Hickory Ridge Orchards just outside of Mexico. The orchard
features apples, peaches, pears and pumpkins all
grown onsite along with plenty of family-friendly activities.
They knew they wanted to get back to the Midwest
and the couple were eyeing mid-Missouri as a destination
for land to start their orchard and agritourism business.
Brandt put an ad on Craigslist in his search for land that
ended up in front of Sandy Binder who owned Sandy's
Apples and Alpacas. She was looking to sell her orchard
just outside of Mexico.
They moved from Fort Collins to Columbia to be closer
to the area and after some back and forth, the Schislers
had the winning bid to purchase the 38-acre property in
the fall of 2017.
" I loved it when I saw it, " Brandt says. " But holy cow
there was a lot here to manage and take care of. "
The original 450 trees from the farm allowed them to
g
Apples, pears, pumpkins and more on the farm
open Hickory Ridge in 2018. However, they're replacing
those trees and adding more. " They defi nitely gave us our
start, but older trees can have disease or other issues
that can spread. By removing and replacing and starting
out organically from the beginning, we're building out our
orchard for agritourism. "
Brandt and Kelsey - Consolidated Electric members
- added 400 apple trees in 2018 and 200 peach and 36
pear trees the following year. This spring they added 1,000
additional apple trees. " When we're done we could have
4,000 or 4,500 trees just using the orchard land we've got
now, " says Tommy Swon, the Schislers' farm partner.
The move toward an organic orchard began in 2019 and
it takes three years to be certifi ed organic. It's not an easy
process. " You have to use certain sprays and keep a log of
dates, times and amounts of what you're spraying, " Brandt
says. " But we know that could potentially be our niche.
Once we're certifi ed, we have the possibility of being the
largest organic orchard in Missouri. "
Hickory Ridge is an agritourism destination as well,
especially in the fall when the farm opens up for visitors
to pick their own apples or pumpkins or take in any of the
activities throughout the farm.
" Our main goal is that we're a true farm fi rst. We're
stewards of the land fi rst and agritourism second, " Brandt
says. " But when children or even their parents visit us it
can be a good education on where your food comes from. "
Admission and parking are free at the orchard. Your
day can include a walk around the nature trail, visiting the
SEPTEMBER 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP 13
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Rural Missouri - September 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2021

Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 4
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 5
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 6
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 7
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 8
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 9
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 10
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 11
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 12
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 13
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Rural Missouri - September 2021 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - Cover4
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