Brackett’s 60 acres of land sits almost smack dab in the center of Limington, Maine, surrounded by cozy homes and endless woods. Manly Brackett is the 8th generation of Brackett’s to own and operate the orchard. What was once two orchards in the city of Portland, in Deering Oaks and Munjoy Hill, the original Brackett’s settled in Limington in 1783 after the revolution.
The Farm Stand, which sweetly displays pumpkins, and apples in every form, is attached to the main farmhouse, still occupied by 98-year-old Manly Brackett. The Brackett’s are still using a machine from the 1930’s to clean and sort each piece of fruit that moves through their facility. The walk-in cooler, where the apples remain most of the year, is as tall as a three-story building. The 7,000 trees are now maintained by Manly’s daughter and her husband, Guy. In addition to the Orchard, Guy’s wife has created a well-renowned antique shop. A beautiful homestead barn is home to her pieces, as well as, a sweet one room schoolhouse, known at The Country Collection, where she sells the antiques.
During our recent visit to the orchards, Guy toured us through the property on the back on his four-wheeler. He spoke of the hundreds of years of Bracketts history, in between answering customer service calls and giving tips to the apple pickers in the fields. We discussed what it’s like to be running a family business, how Coronavirus has affected their season, and how their business has developed and evolved over the last few decades. While this year has certainly presented challenges we all can relate to, Guy kept a positive outlook through our conversation, a refreshing perspective.
Guy also shared with us some interesting facts about his business during our time with him. We learned that Honeycrips are picked first, and most others can handle staying on the tree until 2-3 frosts. We discovered that tied to each apple tree is a bag of human hair from the local barber shop. Guy says it keeps the deer away. While you’d assume Pick Your Own would be their most profitable part of their business, it only accounts for 20% of their profits. In addition to PYO, Brackett’s is responsible for thousands of wholesale apples as well as cider.
While Brackett’s Orchard has closed for Pick Your Own for the season, their farm stand is open every day from 10am – 5pm. For more details on the farm stand and Country Collection visit their website: https://brackettorchard.com/pick-your-own/