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›› cynthia chiles Carter Mountain Orchard

‘It’s a good feeling’ sharing orchard with families %

sara owens

Cynthia Chiles says her family is “very passionate about growing high-quality foods for consumers to enjoy” at Carter Mountain Orchards.

By Sara Owens


arter Mountain Orchard just outside Charlottesville in Albemarle County has been in business since the 1970s. The land has been a working farm since 1912 and a working orchard for more than 50 years. Retail manager Cynthia Chiles is part of the fourth generation to work at her family’s orchard and said there are three generations currently involved in the business. “It’s very much a family business and the livelihood for our family,” Chiles said. “My siblings, parents, nieces and nephews and others are involved. This isn’t just a job; it’s a life. We have invested our whole selves into the business, and we are very passionate about growing high-quality foods for consumers to enjoy.” The orchard grows about 15 varieties of apples on 150 acres, as well as peaches, strawberries, cherries, pumpkins and wine grapes. The family also operates Crown Orchard in Crozet. Since 1974, customers have been traveling to the orchard to pick their own apples. The family also exports and sells apples commercially. “The pick-your-own operation allows us to serve customers in a different way,” Chiles said. “They can come and pick their own apples or just buy from our market.” Carter Mountain Orchard features a bakery that sells freshly made apple pies,

cookies and apple cider donuts. There’s also applesauce, cider, salsa and other products in the venue’s country store. The orchard sees thousands of visitors each year from Virginia and surrounding states. About 10,000 children participate in its field trip program, which supports Virginia Standards of Learning. “By opening our farm to the public, we help give people who live in the suburbs and cities exposure to agriculture,” Chiles said. “It’s a good feeling.” She likes to introduce customers to apple varieties they’ve never had before and let people know there’s more out there than a Red Delicious or other varieties commonly found at the grocery store. Apples are extremely versatile, Chiles said, and can be used in a variety of recipes. “You can make pies, tarts, applesauce, cakes, cider and much more. People often ask what the best apple is for a pie or a tart, and I always tell them it depends on their flavor preference. You can cook and bake with just about any apple you like to eat. Sure, Granny Smiths are great for baking, but so are Rome and other varieties.” Chiles also recommends mixing varieties of apples in recipes to create a different taste. Early-season apples are sweeter than late-season apples, so cooks can use less sugar in recipes and let the natural sugars from the apples take over.

Apple Cake ingredients

1 cup butter 2 cups sugar 2 eggs 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 3 cups finely chopped Granny Smith and/ or Ginger Gold apples 1 cup chopped nuts 1 6-ounce package butterscotch morsels directions

Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9˝ x 13˝ baking pan. Blend butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add flour, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon, beating well after each addition. Stir in apples, nuts and butterscotch morsels. Mixture will be very thick. Press batter into greased baking pan, and bake for 1 hour. Source:



November 2011 Cultivate  

Introduced in July 2008, Cultivate is published quarterly with a focus on safe, fresh and locally grown foods and the Virginia farms that pr...