Matt and Bruce Boyer bring skills of a lifetime, coupled with four years of college to their work everyday in the family's orchards near New Paris. "Our father put a high emphasis on getting a good education, explains Matt. Matt and Bruce both earned horticulture degrees from Penn State University and now operate the orchards started by their parents in 1957. "Book learning goes hand-in-hand with the day-to-day experience that can only be gained by working in the orchard year after year," Matt says. "Both are important."
Matt and Bruce bought Boyer Orchards from their parents in 1989 and have been expanding ever since. They now have more than 250 acres in production - growing 15 varieties of apples, three varieties of peaches and two varieties of pears. They harvest about 150,000 bushels every year between August 1 and mid-October. About ten percent of their fruit is sold to local customers, the rest goes to a packing house in Lancaster to be sold as fresh fruit under the Hess Brother's label.
Both brothers say they can't imagine another career for themselves. Both like working outside and the challenges the business presents. The long hours and uncertainty of the weather can be frustrating, and with so much invested in the fruit a severe drought or cold night can ruin a harvest. That can be tough. On the other hand, having repeat customers return and declare the fruit from Boyer Orchards to be "the best they've ever tasted" makes it all worthwhile. All things considered, a hard life, but a very satisfying one.
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