What started as a back door fruit and produce operation just outside of Winchester, Virginia, has grown into a thriving agrotoursim venture. Heather McKay, second generation manager of the farm, says that the decision to expand came in 2001. “We saw the need for an expansion…the sale of fruit and produce on the side was increasing drastically.” The decision was made to sell the remaining beef cattle and refocus in a big way towards the orchards and produce.
Now, over a decade later in the expansion, Heather seems quite comfortable with the day to day operation of the 450 acre orchard. A large, full service farm stand is nestled amongst perfect lines of apple trees, flanked by the historic farmhouse on one side and farm friendly play structures on the other. The wide front porch on the farm stand offers rocking chairs and quiet games, with a stunning mountain range view in the background. Wandering inside, you are met with smells from the on-site bakery, and a visual mix of food offerings. Marker-Miller Orchard offers everything from fresh baked breads and pastries, local honey, fresh produce, canned variety, including local meats, ice cream, and wines. The atmosphere is friendly as you wander the aisles, taking in everything from the vintage apples crates to the market baskets handmade in Uganda.
The market is open June 1 through December 23, and offers homegrown produce in season. They are open every day except Sunday, and regularly see visitors from all over the Virginia and neighboring states. Being off the beaten path doesn’t seem to impact their business, although that Heather mentions that as a challenge.
Heather says that the best thing about being in this business is being able to help people experience the farm life, if just for a day. “We often see generations come together for a visit, and it’s neat to hear the grandparents talk about their memories of their younger years on their farm.” Heather is passionate about getting people out to the orchard, and she would love to see you! Check out their website HERE, or give them a call at 540-662-1980 to see what’s in season!