Fall in the Fredericton area means it’s apple season. People young and old wait all year for orchards to harvest their fruits, so they can make apple pie, apple cider, apple anything. People remember that old saying “an apple-a-day keeps the doctor away.”
40 minutes west of Fredericton, Hoyt’s Orchard has been growing apples for over 100 years. Eugene Hoyt runs the farm as his father, grand-father, and great-grandfather did before him. It’s what he does.
“Well we’re just getting started in the harvest of the Macintosh apples,” Eugene said. Just getting started? There are thousands upon thousands of apples in the warehouse, and Eugene said that he was “just getting started.”
Eugene has a team of pickers that go from tree to tree picking apples by hand. The pickers put their apples in their handheld bags, then place the apples into a large bin. The bin is hoisted up by a small tractor and driven to the processing house.
The bins are brought into a large cooling room where they are briefly stored so the heat doesn’t rot them. A forklift operator picks up the apple bins and loads them onto a conveyer belt, where they are washed and dried through an automated system. The apples get put onto a slow-spinning machine where they are chosen for best quality by hand.
Eugene sells his apples, including other fruits and vegetables that he grows on the farm, Saturday mornings at the Boyce Farmer’s Market.
Technically, Eugene has sold his farm. However, the current owner knew that Eugene wanted to keep working the farm, so Eugene has been made “farm assistant.” He still does everything he did before as owner of the farm, but without having the title of “farm owner.”
Like many farmers, Eugene values hard work. “No university graduate can teach you this, because it’s not taught in university- it’s taught on the farm. School of Hard Knocks we’ll call it,” Eugene said. Farming is hard, but Eugene keeps a positive attitude. He says it’s essential.
“It’s all I’ve ever known. It’s not just a job- it’s a way of life.” Eugene said. The man is 63 years old; he’s faced countless hardships as a farmer including drought, dead crops, and three heart attacks. Farming is Eugene’s life, and he’ll do it until he drops.
A lot can be learned from a man like Eugene.