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Do you like apples? Sogn Valley Orchard has the answer

John Zimmer has owned Sogn Valley Orchard for 11 years, making big changes to the orchard to maximize efficiency. Zimmer, pictured here with his trusty sidekick Collie, is shown in front of a Winter Banana Apple tree. Zimmer said there are only three trees like this in the state. They are all located at Sogn Valley Orchard. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
At Sogn Valley Orchard, owner John Zimmer picks and washes the apples for customers to purchase. Zimmer places a 15-gallon bins worth of apples into a hydrogen peroxide and water mixture to clean the apples, to assure they are clean and ready for human consumption. Pictured here are numerous apples going through the conveyor belt, almost done with their cleaning process. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Sogn Valley Orchard is open daily from noon to 6 p.m. starting on Sept. 4 and closing for the season on Nov. 4. There are apples, honey, jams and pies available at the store on the property. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

When it comes to growing apples at Sogn Valley Orchard, John Zimmer wants it to be as efficient as possible.

Buying an orchard isn't a common thing, according to Zimmer. They're usually passed down in a family from each generation. But 11 years ago, Zimmer said he was looking for a new challenge and driving to the orchard located off of County 9 Blvd., tucked away among some sporadic homes in Dennison, was interesting to him.

READ MORE: How do you like them apples? Area apple orchards to check out

With a farming background, Zimmer said he saw the potential for the land and decided to take it over, wanting to redesign the orchard.

Sogn Valley Orchard has a variety of apples, ranging from classics like Honeycrisp and Zestar to First Kiss, an apple new to the state from the University of Minnesota.

On the property large, sprawling trees make it difficult for Zimmer and his crew to reach all of the apples. Add in the constant pruning done yearly and it can be a large headache. So Zimmer decided to build a trellis system that would make the trees more manageable and accessible.

The trellis is a series of long wires that run across a part of the orchard with trees being held up. The trellis will allow the trees to continue to grow normally, but will be able to be maintained more easily, including keeping trees shorter and branches less spread out. When the trellis is complete, it looks like how a vineyard grows its grapes.

Zimmer has been busy taking plots of land where trees were and placing the trellis system in. Once the trellis system is in place, Zimmer can maximize his planting with 125 trees per acre.

Currently, Zimmer only has First Kiss and Honeycrisp on the trellis system, but said he hopes to change the current layout of the orchard to that way.

Zimmer has a shop on the property that is open noon to 6 p.m. everyday where people can purchase apples and other treats as well. The last day to purchase apples form Sogn Valley Orchard is Nov. 4.

When is comes to advice Zimmer has for people interested in owning and operating an orchard, Zimmer says, like anything, it takes a lot of passion and commitment to make a business like his function properly.

But he loves the challenge.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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