I recently headed down Interstate 70 to Palisade to learn the stories of a couple of small, family-owned and operated peach orchards from two women who are totally hands-on in their family businesses.
After getting off the interstate at Exit 42, I slowly passed St. Katherine Cellars Winery, then over the canal with a sharp right on a paved road where signs for Just Peachy Orchard and Nana’s Fruit and Jam Shack direct you down a peaceful road lined with orchards.
On the right is Deb and Jim Burnett’s Just Peachy Orchard and fruit stand and farther down the road on the left is Becky and Lance Davis’ Nana’s Fruit and Jam Shack and Davis Family Orchards.
I found Deb, Becky and her, mom Barbara Bonderud, in the midst of rows of loaded peach trees at a table set with delicious peach dishes, proving that although Becky and Deb are serious peach growers, there’s still a little time for quick and delicious peach delights.
Becky and Deb are women of the orchard, running tractors and other equipment, planting, caring for and tending to the trees, plus picking and selling peaches. Becky says.
“We only ask helpers to do what we, ourselves do,” Becky says.
“I pick them, Jim packs them,” Deb says.
Neither woman regrets deciding to grow peaches — both came from non-agricultural backgrounds with their husbands. Taking an early morning walk in the orchard gives each woman a serenity that keeps her going through “peak season” frenzy and preparing for the Palisade Peach Festival set for Aug. 14–17.
And the women credit their success to longtime local growers who shared their knowledge and encouragement and continue to do so.
Deb’s and Becky’s stories reassure us that family-owned orchards will continue for generations to come.
JUST PEACHY ORCHARDS
After lengthy non-agricultural-related careers, Deb and Jim Burnett decided in 1993 to move from the East Slope to Palisade to eat peaches, play golf almost year round (Jim’s words) and to find jobs.
They weren’t at the retirement stage, but wanted the Palisade lifestyle.
After a few jobs, peaches got to them. They purchased an orchard and now raise more than 20 varieties of peaches at Just Peachy Orchard. Golf games are but a memory.
Deb says she eats plenty of bruised or nicked peaches as she picks fresh off the tree, and that keeps her peach appetite so satisfied, she’s ready for a taco at night.
DAVIS FAMILY ORCHARDS
Nana’s Fruit and Jam Shack and Davis Family Orchards are a family-owned and operated by the expanded Davis family: owners Lance and Becky, their sons, Cody and Levon; daughter-in-law Kersee; Becky’s mom, Barbara Bonderud; and grandson, Corbin.
When the Davis family moved here 15 years ago, they started selling peaches for extra money, taking loads to Steamboat. Next came the decision to put in their own orchards and sell their peaches at out-of-town markets.
While packing peaches to take to markets in their garage, people stopped by, wanting to buy some. So they added another orchard. Then, in 2011, Nana’s (Becky) Fruit and Jam Shack opened filled with peach jams, jellies and other peachy items. “The rest is history, everyone calls me Nana!” Becky says. But it’s her mom, Barbara, who tends the store and loves it.