An Orchard-Tending Family That Found a Calling


The Toigo family used to just scrape by on their 350-acre farm in Shippensburg, Pa. “It was a real ‘Green Acres’ experience: run-down and tired with no cash flow,” said Mark Toigo, who runs Toigo Orchards now with his parents and his brother.


After Mr. Toigo graduated from college in the mid-1980’s he started driving berries down to a farm market in Alexandria, Va. It didn’t take long to see how hungry people were for these kinds of things, he said.


The family has since leased 250 more acres. “These farmers’ markets were, without question, our salvation,” Mr. Toigo said.

The Toigos are known for their dozens of varieties of stone fruit, including 17 different kinds of peaches – white, yellow, cling and freestone; seven each of nectarines, cherries and plums; and five of apricots.


AVAILABLE Peaches, nectarines and plums from early July to the end of September; cherries and apricots in July.


SELECTING Look for peaches and nectarines that have a fragrance and yield lightly to pressure when you put your finger on top of the fruit. Apricots should be velvety soft and slightly yielding, and have a light fragrance and aroma, as should plums. When cherries color they are fairly ripe; the ripest Bing cherries are the darker ones; white Royal Ann cherries should have a red blush. If there is any greenery in the box, the leaves should be fresh.


STORING Don’t refrigerate the fruit unless extremely ripe. Don’t wash it until ready to eat.


KITCHEN TIP Halve and pit peaches, then grill for a few minutes; pour some brandy or rum over them.


An Orchard-Tending Family That Found a Calling
June 1, 2005, Wednesday
NY Times
Marian Burros