(PENROSE, Colo.) — At Happy Apple Farm, employees’ spirits embody the farm’s name as they continue to bring a positive outlook on the land despite losing all their apple crop.
“It was a brutal year,” Happy Apple Farm Owner, Tony Ferrara, said. “Over the winter, even though the tree is dormant, if it hits subzero temperatures, you’re going to damage that bud that’s in there, that’s going to eventually bloom. When we finally did bloom, we did have some apples and then the hail polished it off on July 20th. So, it was a double whammy and not a good year for apples.”
The owners realized there was no stopping Mother Nature from the hard hand she dealt the farm.
“You sit there and you’re watching the weather,” said Ferrara. “You’re watching the satellite and you’re just going, ‘oh, please go south or go north and you know, there’s nothing you can do, there’s nothing you can do.”
The farm was purchased in 1984 and Ferrara’s dad was the one who planted the seeds of success. For nearly 40 years, Ferrara has welcomed generations of customers on the family’s land.
“When you are here for 40 years, you create quite the following,” Ferrara said. “I see people for 30, 40 years, that come up and say, ‘Tony, we have to make it a tradition.'”
Most years, the trees are filled with red crisp fruit, which brings people to Penrose from all over in honor of this special fall apple-picking tradition.
“The luxury I have in Colorado… if I had a crop this year, we start in August and in Connecticut, you don’t even think of apples until October,” Ferrara said. “But Colorado, we start in August, which is insane and even if I had a crop this year, we would be picked out by now.”
Happy Apple Farm is taking a hard hit without apples, relying now more than ever on their crops and attractions.
“When you lose your apple crop, our farm, that’s probably about 70-75% of our income,” Ferrara said. “And like I said, thankfully we have pumpkins to fall back on.”
For many visitors, like the James family, other attractions at the farm still draw them to visit.
“The tractor ride is the highlight and then all the different paintings that you can take pictures of your kids,” said visitor Lorraine James. “It’s a good time.”
Brother and sister, Troy and Joy James, both found the perfect pumpkin.
“Well, it’s kind of my favorite because it kind of looks really orange, and I like orange,” said Troy.
Troy’s sister, Joy, shared how special the pumpkin patch was during the farm visit.
“My favorite part today was that I really got to see the different pumpkins from last year,” Joy said. “There’s some more pumpkins in here, and I really like how they like all around and I feel like that I want to stay here forever.”
This is the second time Lorraine James and her family have headed out to the Penrose farm to experience the one-of-a-kind fall festivities.
“It’s super special, someone to open up their home and their barn and have different things that they sell and just having the experience of having fun with your family and being a part of the tradition is amazing,” said Lorraine James.
Ferrara joked throughout the day, saying while the season is crappy, they still remain happy.
Customers are in luck when visiting because they still can bite into a juicy apple or drink some apple cider. This is all thanks to support from other apple farmers in the area who are lending a helping hand.
“We do private label, which they put our name on it,” Ferrara said. “They make it for us and so the apple butter, obviously this time of year with fall, is very popular on the weekends. Our barbecue will help us out… the fresh pressed cider, we also get from the western slope and that’s real unique.”
Due to the lack of apples, the farm had to scale back and save money, now open Friday through Sunday.
“So, with payroll we went to Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” Ferrara said. “The deli is just Saturday and Sunday and normally it’s like five days a week, but without the apples we had to scale back. But you can always visit our website at HappyAppleFarm.com and one neat thing about us is pets are allowed and you’ll see dogs everywhere over the weekend and we love animals.”