Fruit so fresh, it's like you almost picked it yourself! We pride ourselves in selling our fruit within the first 22 days of being picked.
We travel around the USA to bring the Freshest, the Juiciest, the Sweetest, and the Biggest fruit we possibly can.
I graduated from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. They got me started on eating Colorado peaches. I enjoyed how sweet and juicy they were. Years later I'd go on vacation and buy in bulk to share with my friends and family back home.
I'd been looking for a business that would let me spend more time in the Black Hills. I had three criteria. 1) Would let me continue my tax practice. 2) Let me travel to nice places. 3) Let me sell a high quality product. My fruit business works on all three levels.
At first, I just sold out of the back of my pick up and it grew from there. One day I had some very ripe pears and I took them to the Black Hill's Farmers Market and some ladies that canned bought them. The next year I became a farmer's market vender.
I planted a few plums trees at both my house and my office in Mobridge. When I bought my place in Rapid City, I planted about 2 dozen trees, plums, apples, pears, peaches, apricots and pie cherries. I've planted quite a few berries but it looks like I've got a lot to learn about berries. I'm planning to add a birch grove, which I'll be able to tap for syrup.
The official name of my company is the Bark Ranch. That's me and my dog Dakota, who occasionally barks, and we go to orchards that have trees that have bark. Dakota watches over me in all situations. She's a real well behaved German Shepherd Dog.
We start in June going to Washington for cherries, apricots and blueberries. Then maybe to Missouri for early peaches. Next is to Montana for the big Flathead Valley cherries and if we're lucky, we also get huckleberries. In early August we start going to Colorado for peaches, nectarines, and pears. Colorado peaches are known for their size, flavor and juiciness. Later trips have the nectarines, and make way for my favorite fruit, plums (The fruit of royalty).
In August we make weekend runs to Woonsocket. Woonsocket and the Forestberg area in South Dakota actually does produce the best, sweetest watermelons and muskmelons to be had.
This year my last Colorado trip took us up into the mountains. We added Colorado apples to our product mix. Those highland fruits seem to have a special flavor.
Usually we end the year in Wisconsin getting apples, maple syrup and cranberries. I've also bought chocolate and cheese there. The growers I work with helped develop the Honeycrisp Apple as well as newer apples like the River Belle and the Pizzazz.
The times fruits get ready vary a lot from year to year. Wind, rain, frost, early freeze, too hot, wet at the wrong time, all can move up or delay the time each fruit gets ready. I'm continuously revising my schedule. Then once I get home with a load, it's a scramble to get it into customers hands while it's at it's peak. Scheduling and rescheduling is the most challenging part of the business.
This year I got my livestock. Bees. Not sure if I'm doing very well, but I think they are definitely pollinating my trees. They have a way of reminding me to wear my bee suit. I'm considering diversifying by adding a commercial worm operation.
My 2/3 acre place is a registered USDA farm. It sure seems small compared to the big Dakota farms and ranches. But it's about 1/2 the size of the average farm on Earth and about what an average Cambodian farm is. There's a lot of big families making their whole living off a little piece of ground.
One of the best things about this is the people I with whom I get to associate. My customers are always very supportive and ask great questions about the fruit. The growers who sell me fruit just love what they do and are so happy to have their stuff go to a place that doesn't grow much fruit. I don't think I've ever met a more helpful, friendly and hard-working bunch of people than my fellow vendors and the employees who help me sell are just the best. As always, Dakota the Dog is the tops.
We have locations in:
Rapid City, SD
If you are interested in purchasing in bulk (for resale) please contact us for pricing.