Chippewa Falls orchard plants thousands of apple trees in expansion
After originally buying and opening their orchard, Bushel & A Peck, back in the 1940s, owners Lisa and Wayne Geist are undertaking some major expansions this season and in the seasons to come.
While many aspects of the orchard are growing, the couple is kicking out a good number of trees that aren’t producing well enough for public demand and adding 8,000 high density trees this year. This eco-friendly type of tree allows the orchard to do more with less by growing up to 1,000 trees on just one acre alone. And don’t worry, many of these trees are of the ever-popular Honeycrisp variety.
“Sometimes when Wayne and I are exhausted, we hop on the ATV and sit up on the top of hill looking out at everything we’ve done and I think, ‘OK, we can keep going, it’s worth it.’ ” – Lisa Geist, co-owner of Bushel and a Peck Orchard
Bushel & A Peck Orchard has put in a parking lot this season to prioritize children’s safety, as well as expanded its kids play area. New this season is a tire constructed sea-monster climbing area, tightrope, and outdoor bowling. They plan to add something new to the area each year. The orchard will also offer a pick-your-own pumpkin patch with wagon rides, as well as a re-vamped pick-your-own apple area.
“The expansion was really prompted by the public and especially with kids safety in mind,” said Wayne.
The owners also recently acquired their liquor license and look forward to eventually creating a Packer and Badger game-friendly lounge area where visitors can enjoy the tasty local craft beers, ciders, and wines they currently offer.
You can find more palate pleasing goodness inside the bake shop at Bushel & A Peck Orchard, the homemade turnovers are especially worth trying. Lisa heads out each Saturday morning to hand-pick raspberries (even when the mosquitoes are bad) to turn them into filling for the turnovers. The bake shop also offers fresh caramel apples and homemade pies.
If that wasn’t enough to offer, the orchard will have new three-acre corn maze (not too easy but not too difficult, so it’s perfect for all ages) open this season and an even larger eight-acre maze ready to go next year.
So far, with all the expansions and tree planting, the couple has invested nearly $350,000 into the project.
“Sometimes when Wayne and I are exhausted, we hop on the ATV and sit up on the top of hill looking out at everything we’ve done and I think, ‘OK, we can keep going, it’s worth it,’ ” Lisa said.
Lisa and Wayne have put countless hours into their orchard over the years and have donated much of that time and hard work back the community. Each year, they let three Boy Scout troops from the area pick and bag all the fallen deer apples from the orchard to sell outside for 100 percent profit to their troop. In addition, the couple donates all leftover product from the cooler at the end of each season to Feed My People Food Bank.
Lisa especially looks forward to when school groups come to tour each year. These groups get a lesson on apple growing, the life of a tree, and what it means to eat healthy, homegrown food. Of course the kids also get to enjoy an apple of their own that they pick themselves.
“We knew that the orchard wouldn’t cure cancer or anything like that, but we wanted to do our part to contribute something and especially invest in something that our kids and grandkids can benefit from,” Lisa said. “And maybe they’ll even take it over in the future, who knows.”
While Bushel & A Peck has been open for business since Aug. 20 this season, the fall fun really gears up in September when the orchard teams up with Visit Eau Claire to provide live music from local bands on the Sept. 10 and 17 from 1-3pm. The couple is even looking to get the former owner to perform with his barbershop quartet in the near future, so stay tuned for that.
This season brought many new additions and changes to the Geist’s family orchard, but the couple isn’t stopping here. Wayne and Lisa are looking to have a cross country ski area opened in the near future as well as even more high-density trees (up to 18,000) in the seasons to come.
Bushel & A Peck Market 18444 Co. Hwy OO, Chippewa Falls • (715) 723-0133 • bushelandapeckmarket.com