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95th Street Farmers Market Vendor Story: Gundersen Orchards – Crisp, fall apples are on their way!

Apple picking captures the essence of autumn: cool, crisp air, bright fall colors, and fresh, juicy apples ready to be picked. The next best thing to picking apples yourself is to visit a farmers market where you can find apples of every variety along with delicious apple treats, such as apple cider, caramel apples, homemade pies, and apple cider donuts. 


The Gundersons brought these early Galas and Golden Supreme apples to the market in early September

Gundersen Orchards will be bringing their finest apples of the season to the 95th Street Farmers Market on Thursdays from 3:00-7:00 p.m. in September and will continue visiting Naperville in October at the 5th Ave. Station Farmers Market.
 
Mari and Eric Gundersen at their stand at the 95th Street Farmers Market

I spoke with Eric Gundersen at the 95th Street Market to learn more about the family orchard and all of the different varieties of fruit that they grow. Eric’s parents began the family orchard years ago in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and continue to assist their grandson, Brett, a University of Illinois graduate, who now manages the orchard. Eric and his wife, Mari, live in the Naperville area, managing The Growing Place garden centers in both Naperville and Aurora and representing Gundersen’s at the 95th Street Farmers Market.

Gundersen sign at the 95th Street Farmers Market

The weather has affected the orchard in 2019. In early February, temperatures dipped to 15 degrees below zero for one day, which was enough to kill the peach blossoms. The peach trees themselves survived, but produced no peaches this summer. Thanks to a partnership with another orchard, Gundersen brought New Jersey peaches to the market to sell. 

Gundersen’s New Jersey peaches for the 2019 season, with Michigan peaches lost to a cold snap in February
The apple blossoms were not harmed in the severe winter cold, but the cool, wet spring has delayed their ripening by several weeks. The pears also are late this year, but will include new varieties of pears that were planted three years ago.  
Apple cider comes later in the season, usually in October. Gunderson Orchards mixes several varieties of apples to make their cider for the best flavor. Eric said that they take their apples to a local cider press near the orchard. The cider is treated with UV light, not heat, so the full flavor is retained and the cider can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. He also recommends freezing it in portions if you can’t drink it all at once. It freezes well and tastes as good as fresh cider as long as you thaw it completely. 

For making pies, Gundersen sells bags of apples chosen for the best pie flavor, with assorted varieties like Yellow Delicious, Winesap and Cortland. 

Gundersen Orchards will bring a beautiful lineup of apple varieties to the 95th Street Market and the Fifth Ave. Market this fall. Some of the varieties that Eric mentioned include:
 
Gundersen Orchards’ Pristine Apples

Pristine – Early (August-September), green, tart and sweet
Zestar – Early, (August-September) tart and sweet
September apples:
Gala – Sweet, an eating apple
Cortland – Crispy, great for eating, drying, pies, sauce, jelly, salads
October apples:
Honeycrisp – Large, firm, crisp, sweet – a favorite
Kindercrisp – A new variety related to the Honeycrisp. Trees were planted three years ago and Brett has tasted a few and said that they were sweet and delicious.
Empire – A cross between Red Delicious and Macintosh, great for eating.
Fuji – All-purpose apple, stores well
Golden Supreme – Sweet, crisp variety of Golden Delicious
Macintosh – A favorite for eating, pies, sauce, jelly
Red Delicious – Sweet, for eating
Golden Delicious – Sweet, for eating, baking, sauce, pies
Jonathan – Tart, firm, good for eating, baking, jelly, sauce
Jonagold – Sweet, medium firm, good for eating, baking, sauce, jelly, and pies.
Jonamac – A cross between Jonathan and Macintosh.
Braeburn – Sweet, all-purpose
Winesap – Good for pies, baking, eating
Rome – Firm, good for baking

Other Fall Favorites at the 95th Street Market:

 
Windy Acres Farm (above) will be offering apple cider donuts this month! They also sell Honeycrisp and Jonagold apples and apple, strawberry rhubarb and cherry pies.
 

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is back with their amazing caramel apples. 
 


Sunset Growers Greenhouse will have mums and pumpkins. 

 

 


Connect your business’s brand with a well-known and respected one like the Naperville Park District’s and reach a large, active and diverse audience.

To learn more about our sponsorship opportunities contact
Stacey Fontechia Sales and Sponsorship Manager at 630-848-3575 or at sfontechia@napervilleparks.org.

Looking for an opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives while building a fun and dynamic career? Consider the Naperville Park District! It takes all kinds of skills, knowledge and talent to serve the recreation needs of the Naperville community. If you’re passionate about the outdoors, staying active, having fun and encouraging others to do the same, then check out our part-time and full-time career opportunities.

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Funds raised through the Naperville Parks Foundation support the Naperville Park District’s Fee Assistance Program. The Naperville Parks Foundation supports the recreation needs and desires of the residents of Naperville – encouraging health and wellness, fitness, family time, and fun. The Foundation supports the mission of making recreation of all kinds accessible to everyone across the community, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

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Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
 
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
 
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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