Growing up in logging camps, hunting and fishing in the mountains of Springville California, there wasn’t too much ground I didn’t cover on daily hikes or walks with my Dad or hound dogs. We would be gone for hours at a time, even full days, checking traplines, or hunting game in season. We had our regular sources of food jerky, or my dad’s canned fish (blah), but the real treasure was finding old apple trees that dotted the mountains, valleys, and ridges of Springville. My Dad would explain that some were near a hundred years old and that these old trees had survived the odds after settlers or farmer moved on. Their fruit was small, but it was sugary sweet. I loved finding them and knowing they were part of our history. Their strong roots and branches withstood the test of time which made them a bit majestic in appearance.
I learned about Johnny Apple seed and I believed he had put them there. I loved his story and what he stood for. He loved God and serving people.
I would later find that Springville was the Apple capital of the west coast in the early 1900’s. Apples were a big part our community, and mountain folks grew them beautifully. We grew up with apple stands and fresh cider that was brought down from the mountain Orchards. The apples were sugary sweet and crisp with every bite. The cider was unmatched.
Locals made gorgeous apple pies, crisps, apple butter, apple jam, jellies, apple granola, and even apple cider syrup!
These items were sold at our annual Springville Apple Festival and throughout the year at a local feed store, or the local apple stand.
Sadly, some of this rich history would begin to fade away. Some of the old farms sold and newcomers ripped out trees for livestock, and in the recent past the CA drought conditions would wipe out generational apple farms. The apples and cider nearly stopped flowing from our mountains. Thankfully some orchards survived and we are excited and blessed to be able to work with some of the present owners of these original orchards as we attempt to strengthen and rebuild these rich traditions and the fine heritage of this amazing area that we call home.
Our story begins when my husband and I bought 10 acres above Springville and we planted trees before we even built our house! I always dreamed of living off the land and having our own orchard. When we broke ground and started building our house, it took us a year and a half to build our home with our own two hands! We raised the walls of our little home in a traditional barn raising style with lots of community hands, loving family and friends and some strong ropes! Our house and family grew and so did our trees. We began to attend local farmers markets, selling baked goods and freshly picked fruits and vegetables from our garden. This began to pay for more trees and supplies needed for our farm. This is where I was introduced to Ciderhouse Foods and the tradition of making apple cider syrup, apple butter, and apple granola by our neighbors and retired teachers, The Manning’s. The Manning’s had acquired Ciderhouse Foods from the local founders Larry & Barbara Otter who started making these fine apple products over 35 years ago. When the Manning’s offered the business to our family it represented the next generation of fine, local, artisan history rich with the traditions surrounding the apples, traditions, family, and generations that we love so much.
I knew I had been taught something special and I knew this was a way I could work from home and watch my children grow.
I was taught how to make each product the old-fashioned way. Cooking down apples for hours for butter, thickening and stirring fresh unfiltered cider for apple cider syrup, and tossing freshly baked granola with dried apples and other dried fruits!!
And so, this is how the timeless local traditions remain, the unique Ciderhouse products continue and our Mount Dennison Orchards began…