The Blue Ridge Farm Direct Market Association (BRFDMA) is an organization of Henderson County Apple Growers that sell fresh apples to the public at farm stands and roadside markets. Henderson County is the home of the NC Apple Festival and Street Fair and one of the leading producer of apples in the Southeast, producing over 85% of the apples grown in North Carolina. Apples remain a $15-24 Mil. annual crop. The county is also a large producer of vegetables ranking 2nd or 3rd in the entire state of North Carolina consistently each year.
The association was original formed in 1985 in cooperation with the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service. The mission of the BRFDMA is to promote Henderson County NC Apples while educating the growers and the public about the apple industry. Each year we promote NC Apples, Apple Orchards, Direct Farm Markets / Roadside Stands, and Agritourism, including orchard and farm tours, barnyard animal tours, and K-12 educational tours in Henderson County. For more information, call Marvin Owings at the NC Cooperative Extension Service – Henderson County Center (828) 697-4891 or (828) 329-2730.
HENDERSON COUNTY NC APPLE INDUSTRY HISTORY
Growing apples has been part of Henderson County’s culture and heritage since the mid 1700s. Dalton, Edney, Enloe, Freeman, Gilbert, Henderson, Jackson, Justice, Justus, Lamb, Lancaster, Laughter, Liese, Lyda, Merrill, Moore, Moss, Nix, Staton, and Stepp are all names of Henderson County families that have played an important role in apple production in the county. More about the History of the Henderson County Apple Industry.
- 1700s – William Mills, set fruit trees and became the first apple grower in Henderson County
- 1782 – Asa and Samuel Edney married daughters of William Mills and become some of the first settlers in the Edneyville Community of Henderson County
- 1882 – Rail service connecting Hendersonville to Asheville and South Carolina cities and towns was used by farmers to apples and vegetables out of the county
- 1890 – 1910 – Farms began hauling apples and other fresh produce to Greenville, Spartanburg, and other South Carolina Counties
- 1936 – The Blue Ridge Apple Growers Association was formed; Sales were approx. $200,000 per year; Popular apple varieties – Banana Rose, Hoover, Wolf River, and Early June
- 1945 – Apple growers started planting Starking in the Hendersonville NC area
- 1946 – 1947 – Establishment of the first commercial apple packing house
- 1947 – The North Carolina Apple Blossom Festival – which later changed to the NC Apple Festival – was organized by the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce, the Blue Ridge Apple Growers Association, and the County Agricultural Extension Service
- 1950s – Introduction of modern equipment, including speed sprayers and automatic power pruners to area farms
- 1952 – There were about 180,000 bearing apple trees in Henderson County NC
- 1954 – NC Apple Growers Association was organized by the Agricultural Department head at NC State University
- 1958 – Gerber came to Henderson County and selected a site to process local apples, peaches, and many vegetable crops
- 1959 – Apple growers got together and organized the first apple packing cooperative in Henderson County NC – known as the Western North Carolina Apple Growers Association
- 1959 – 1960 – Sports apple varieties were planted – Starkcrimson, Red King, Topred, Vance Red Sport and others
- 1965 – J.N. Major, of Old Virginia, built a juice processing plant at Mountain Home NC – later purchased by Seneca
- 1976 – Local apple growers organized the Carolina Apple Processing Cooperative known as “CAP”
- 1978 – Seneca expanded the former J.N. Major juice processing plant
- 1980s – Western North Carolina Apple Growers Association has about 50 members and was packing 100,000+ bushels of apples and storing more than 150,000 bushels of apples each year
- 1984 – Carolina Apple Processing Cooperative (“CAP”) sold by the growers to H. P. Bomers, Ltd. of Hereford, England which currently operates under the name “All Juice”