AS THE FAMILY GROWS, SO DOES THE FARM
July 03, 2017
From prairie, to farmland, to apple orchard … how this piece of Central Illinois has changed! Many local farms have expanded and changed over the
years to support a growing family, and we are proud to be one of them.
For most of its history, the Curtis family farm sustained the family through corn, soybeans and hogs, but by the time my grandpa Paul married my grandma Joyce in 1956, the farm had become too small to support the growing family. One day, as Grandpa mulled over his options, he savored the satisfying crunch of a juicy apple, and the answer became obvious. He decided to transform the farm into an apple orchard.
In 1977, Paul and Joyce took the first small step by planting 700 trees on three acres. As they prepared to open their doors to the public three years later, a hailstorm came through and damaged much of the apple crop. Grandpa Paul still has a saying from that year: “When life gives you lemons you make lemonade, but when life gives you hail-damaged apples you make apple cider.” He went out and bought a small cider press that year and started making apple cider. It has been an award-winning Curtis Orchard favorite ever since.
Over time, Paul and Joyce’s children and grandchildren (including me) joined the family business and it grew into the Curtis Orchard that we see today. Things certainly look different than the 700 baby trees that were originally planted here, but we are still just a local family living the dream that Grandma and Grandpa Curtis had nearly 40 years ago, supplying our visitors with fresh local apples, honey, berries, pumpkins and more!
Photography by Mike Tedesco, Illinois Partners Magazine.
Rachel works with her family at Curtis Orchard where she is the store manager and beekeeper. She also stays busy raising 1-year-old twin girls with her husband Jeremy.