“The only way forward for farms our size is adding value to our agricultural products,” says Hugh McPherson, owner at Maple Lawn Winery. “Our wine and cider products are a perfect extension of our pick-your-own, direct-to-the-consumer plan for our farm.”
Nicknamed “The One Year Winery” by the staff, the project began in February 2015 and guests enjoyed the first tastings in December of 2015. With the help of existing farm staff, contractors, local winemakers, and many vendors, Maple Lawn Farms built a tasting room, outfitted an existing production room for winemaking, learned how to make wine, then produced, bottled, labeled and sold their first products.
Learning new farming practices and skills isn’t new to the operation. The McPherson family started growing fruit back in 1870s. Maple Lawn Farms, now officially recognized as a Century Farm, continues to adapt and change with the times.
“There were old orchards here when I was a kid,” says Paul McPherson, owner at Maple Lawn Farms. ”and I was born in 1942. Farming is a continual progression. You never stop trying new things.”
Key to the successful application for the USDA Value-Added Grant is the use of Maple Lawn Farms peaches and apples. Currently, fruit is sold first to pick-your-own guests and in the farm market. Fruit leftover is harvested and sent to a fruit packer in Adams County. The fruit sent to the packer has a very low value to the farm. Repurposing the fruit from the packer to the the winery for fermenting and bottle recaptures and enhances the total value of the farm’s production.
“It’s great to see the fruit stay on the farm and be transformed,” says Matt Posey, farmer and winemaker at Maple Lawn Farms. “To see the enjoyment people get from our first batches has been really rewarding. We are doing a good thing and we’re going to need more help this season.”
The new project is projected to increase seasonal employment by 10-12 part-time pouring hosts and 1-3 productions assistants. USDA grades grant applications on economic impact as well as value added to the farm products.
“Our farm is uniquely connected to production agriculture and to the public,” says McPherson. “While we have so much to learn, our friends at Naylor Winery, Allegro Vineyards and the community really have helped us get this project off the ground.”