Owners560Jim Mondry and Katie Lutz are looking forward to their first season as new owners of Smiths' Apples and Farm Market.

Hub Staff

It's apple season again in Saugeen Shores and this year Smiths' Apples and Farm Market, located on The River Road, Port Elgin, will open 10am on Saturday, September 3 under new ownership.

Katie Lutz and Jim Mondry, along with their 5 year old daughter, Coraline, took over ownership of the orchard in June this year after having worked alongside Steve and Micki Smith for a year to learn the business. The Smiths retired after having run the business for 16 years.

Both engineers, Lutz grew up in Port Elgin and Mondry is originally from the Hamilton area, where the couple met at McMaster University, moving to Ottawa after their undergraduate degree. “We moved back a year ago to work alongside Steve and Mikki,” said Lutz. “We just loved the business, loved the community and wanted a change,” she said.

“Katie grew up here so we've been coming here every fall,” explained Mondry. “We knew the business well. We knew Steve and Mikki, we knew what existed here...[Katie] intuitively understood what this business offered in terms of work, lifestyle; in terms of how you're interacting with people... and how you're creating value for the community,” he said.

“We'd often spend Thanksgiving here with Katie's mom and so for nine years this was kind of our tradition...we'd always come and pick apples,” he said.

Lutz added that the first time they set foot on the property was in 2006.

The new owners said that neither of them had done anything like this before. “It's a totally different background we’re learning,” said Lutz. “Steve, the previous owner, this was his second career, he was a biology teacher, so it’s not that different than when he started it. The only difference is that he got to start gradually, we've been thrown in. but it’s going really well.”

Lutz said one of their biggest challenges so far has been cash flow. “Because it’s such a seasonable business...there are a lot of up front costs and we don't have any income coming in,” she explained. “I'd also say water was a challenge this year because it was a drought and we’re learning how to manage that.”

Despite the water shortage, Lutz said that the apples have done really well and they were really looking forward to their first season, which will run from the Labour Day weekend until Halloween.

Of the 10 total varieties of apples available on the orchard, three will be ready for the launch of the season. “The Zestar! and Sunrise will be in store and Ginger Gold are ready for pick your own,” said Lutz.

The bakery inside the Farm Market has been busy getting ready for opening weekend as well. “We'll have pies and tarts and some other baked goodies,” Lutz said, adding that they use their own Sunrise apples for baking. “We consider them the very best pie apple ever here.”

Mondry added the Sunrise apples were crisp and had a really nice flavour. “They also hold their shape when you bake with them so they make really, really nice pies.”

As has been tradition at Smiths’ for years, the new owners will continue with the corn maze. And this year’s theme, ‘The Final Frontier’ is for Star Trek fans of all ages. Lutz and Mondry shared an aerial video of the maze to their Facebook page just this week on which the Enterprise can clearly be seen.

You can also find Smiths’ Apples and Farm Market on their website smithsapples.com.

Smiths560Apple laden trees at Smiths' Apples and Farm Market, which will open Labour Day weekend until Halloween.

GingerGold560Ginger Gold apples are ready to 'Pick Your Own' at Smiths' Apples and Farm Market.

Zestar Trees560Zestar! Apples at Smiths' will be one of the three varieties ready to purchase on opening weekend.

Rows560Rows of apple trees full of Ginger Gold, one of the 10 variety apples available at Smiths'.