The Door County Economic Development Corporation announced that Wood Orchard LLC (http://www.woodorchard.com) is the winner of the Door County Industry of the Year Award. The annual award recognizes a local construction, service or manufacturing business that has made a substantial impact on the community and enjoyed significant accomplishments during the past year. The announcement came during the DCEDC annual investors meeting at Stone Harbor Resort & Conference Center in Sturgeon Bay.
Wood Orchard is a family owned fruit farm established in 1955 by Jim and Barbara Wood, after moving their young family to cool Door County from hot and humid St. Louis, Missouri. Jim’s son, Steve, and grandson, Jeff, now work together to grow about 200 acres of strawberries, raspberries, cherries and apples on the Door Peninsula.
Steve’s wife, Janice, manages Wood Orchard Market just north of the village of Egg Harbor. Wood Orchard Market sells much of what is grown in their own orchards, along with a unique selection of gift items, a large variety of specialty foods, and products from their in-house bakery.
Innovative in their industry, Wood Orchard is part of a nationwide consortium of apple growers who have brought two new and highly successful apple varieties to market in recent years: the Honeycrisp and SweeTango®. For many years, McIntosh and Cortland apples were the main varieties in their wholesale and retail business. Now, however, Honeycrisp is the apple that is attracting the most attention. When their initial planting of SweeTango® is complete, Wood Orchard projects to have about 10,000 trees in the ground in Door County, producing enough apples to supply their retail markets and wholesale partners.
When their source for providing dried apple products went out of business, the Woods developed a process for peeling, coring, drying and packaging Honeycrisp apples locally that is superior in flavor, texture, color and taste to what was previously available. The investment in equipment to manage this process was significant, however it now adds to their off season production and enables them to provide year-round employment.
“We are pleased to recognize Wood Orchard as our industry of the year,” said DCEDC Executive Director Bill Chaudoir. “Agriculture has always been a primary driver of the Door County economy, and Wood Orchard is also an excellent example of the successful intersection between agriculture and the tourism industry. They have been an important part of our local economy for many years and we can only hope that will continue for many years to come.”
This year marks the 39th year of the Door County Industry of the Year Award, first presented by the Door County Chamber of Commerce in 1973. Last year’s award winner was WireTech Fabricators. Other recent winners of the Industry of the Year Award include Roen Salvage Company, Door Peninsula Winery, N.E.W. Industries, Marine Travelift/ExacTech and the Washington Island Ferry Line.