If you take a stroll up through the North Georgia Mountain this time of year, there’s a few things you’re guaranteed to see; beautiful mountains and apple market after apple market stocked full of this year’s apples. One of those markets is Aaron Family Orchards, an operation that’s been a staple in the Ellijay community for decades.
“As soon as you walk in, you’ll notice it’s a really old building. My great grandparents actually bought the property in 1938; started construction on here. Aaron’s Apple House back then officially opened in 1944 with Shafter, Reba, and then my great my grandpa and my great uncles. Over time, the orchard grew from year to year. Back in those days, we were one hundred percent wholesale. Over the past twenty, thirty years, wholesale for us has started to start to move down and retail started to pick up. So, we’ve had to adapt to the market by adding in different things to keep people coming to our orchard year after year,” says Joshua Aaron, Operator of Aaron Family Orchards.
Aaron, who has been involved with the operation his entire life, is now the fourth generation to run the business and as he has begun to take the reins, has continued working to adapt to the changing market by focusing more on agritourism, as they now sell a variety of canned jams and jellies, baked goods, and for the first time, offer a U-pick flower patch.
“Some of the big things that we’ve added in, we’ve added in a wide array of canned goods, of course, we’ve always had cider, but making sure it’s in quantities where people will want to buy it and take home. Getting a variety of different baked goods. So whether that be fried pies, apple cider, donuts, breads, a few other novelty items. When you go to the store, you’ll see we have some candies, we have some soaps and candles, seasonings, different jewelry, things like that; things that are all centered around kind of the Appalachian feel that we have in our store. Then when it comes to agritourism, this year is the first time we’ve tried it, we added in a u-pick flower patch,” says Aaron.
According to Aaron, the patch was a huge success and says that going forward, he plans on continuing to evolve the business by working to create a family-friendly environment; an environment that offers several different activities for people to make new memories and perhaps create new traditions.
“The only thing you can do in agriculture is keep on growing. We teach the kids this every day in FFA and 4-H, it’s either better days through better ways or to make the best better, and that’s just what we’ve got to keep on doing. We have got to add in more family friendly opportunities for them; that’s one way. We’ve just got to keep on growing and keep getting more land, planting more trees, adding in more opportunities for people to come here and make memories,” says Aaron.
By: John Holcomb