An orchard reborn: Broadview Orchards keeps trees from former orchard alive
SHEPHERDSTOWN — When Uvilla Orchards closed last year, many local residents were sad to see a community staple disappear. But, thanks to the fact that Uvilla Orchards owner’s owner, Paul Elliott, planted many of his peach trees on many of the orchard’s peach trees were planted on other community members’ property, his legacy is living on.
“Paul and I are good friends,” said Al Cobb, of Shenandoah Junction. “We’ve gotten on well for many years, and I’ve never regretted the day he walked onto my property and asked if he could use my land to grow peaches. He’s a great asset in the community, and we’re going to trying carrying on the tradition, so to speak.”
When Elliott told all of the property owners whose land he had planted on about his plans to retire, Cobb was the only one who decided to establish an orchard and learn to care for the trees himself.
“Paul and I had a contractual relationship, and he provided a notice that he was getting ready to retire, and so the discussion happened immediately when he let us know that he was going to be retiring,” Cobb said. “My wife and I spoke about the pros and cons of keeping the orchard up and running, and we mutually decided it was worth the effort. And so we began the transition as soon as last year’s peach season came to an end in August.
“Paul’s helped us tremendously. He’s been a huge asset transitioning the maintenance of the orchard. He’s been valuable in providing guidance, and he’s got a wealth of experience as an orchardist,” Cobb said, mentioning he was already a gardener before he chose to start the orchard. “Paul was more than happy to lend his expertise in helping us keep the orchard a viable crop.”
The orchard on Cobb’s property currently has 105 trees, and Cobb is open to adding other fruit trees to that mix in the future. But for right now, he plans to focus on cultivating his trees, as one of the principal peach growers in the area.
“We are only one of two peach growers in the entire county. I’d much rather have peach trees than a bare field, and I think they look beautiful on the property,” Cobb said, mentioning he has also learned a lot from the West Virginia University Extension Office.
“They offer training in property management, to pest control, to anything that involves growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables in West Virginia. It’s an extraordinary resource,” Cobb said, mentioning that he has gone through at least one training program at the office. “Part of taking over the orchard, is to become certified in spray application. That requires testing and training, so that we can safely and effectively apply the necessary pesticides to bring peaches to market in a safe and viable way.”
While Cobb works his full-time job in the day, his orchard manager, Kelly Fink, cares for the trees, increases the orchard’s social media presence and takes the orchard’s peaches to the Thursday Market at Town Run Tap House and Community Pub, Thursdays from 3-7 p.m. Fink, who is a Shepherdstown resident and recent graduate from Kent State University with a degree in biology, said she has enjoyed meeting people who thought Uvilla Orchards’ peaches were gone for good.
“I’ve had a bunch of people come up to me, to say they’re so happy there are still peaches in this area. That makes it fun to do,” Fink said.