Soergel’s Orchards — a family-run farm and nation retailer — lies about half-hour northwest of Oakland. Its basic purple barn, in addition to the rows of pumpkins and apple bushes ready to be picked, transport guests to the countryside and away from the hustle of metropolis life.
Soergel’s has bought apples for decades — remaining a well-liked vacation spot for fall necessities. After a 12 months of restrictions as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, they’re providing an array of occasions and merchandise that change with the seasons as soon as once more.
Amy Soergel, one in every of 9 relations working at Soergel’s Orchards, grew up in Pittsburgh’s North Hills and helped out along with her household’s enterprise since she was a baby. After learning public well being at Johns Hopkins College and getting her grasp’s in public well being at Pitt, she returned dwelling to the enterprise.
Soergel began an natural, gluten-free and allergen-free retailer on the property 11 years in the past. Managing Naturally Soergel’s is only one of her many roles within the household enterprise. She additionally manages weekend festivals, helps with staffing and handles advertising and promoting for the orchard.
Soergel’s is open year-round, however its Fall Fest occurs each weekend in October beginning at 10 a.m. It options distributors equivalent to Boyd and Blair Vodka and Arsenal Cider, in addition to tractor rides, apple choosing, pumpkin choosing and portray and sand artwork for teenagers.
Excluding apple and pumpkin choosing, Soergel mentioned these distributors and occasions have made their return this 12 months after being placed on maintain due to the pandemic.
“We had been very, very restricted on what we provided,” Soergel mentioned. “We nonetheless wished to have some form of fall expertise, however we didn’t really feel snug offering it like we’re this 12 months.”
Erin Brennan, a junior rehabilitation science main, took a visit to Soergel’s Fall Fest on a whim with a gaggle of buddies after discovering the orchard on-line. Brennan mentioned there was pleasant workers and ample issues to do.
“We wished to do one thing cute and fall-like, simply one thing healthful. So I believe somebody simply Googled pumpkin patches close by,” Brennan mentioned. “The individuals had been additionally very nice, and there was loads to do over there.”
Brennan mentioned leaving campus and having fun with the actions at Soergel’s was a refreshing escape from the calls for of college.
“It’s simply being at college, every little thing form of will get traumatic and stuff on campus,” Brennan mentioned. “Typically simply doing little healthful issues like that may be a enjoyable approach to, in a way, be a child once more.”
However work at Soergel’s doesn’t cease after the autumn season. They proceed to usher in prospects with completely different holiday-inspired occasions. Soergel mentioned festivals and occasions occur year-round on the orchard, such because the Bunny Festival in April, Mom’s Day breakfast and brunches in Could, the Strawberry Festival and Firefly Festival in June and Peach Festival in August.
In addition to the occasions, merchandise within the bakery additionally change seasonally. Soergel mentioned as holidays change, the shop will swap out a lot of its desserts, whereas maintaining produce gadgets usually the identical.
Pumpkin-flavored muffins, rolls and cookies line the cabinets within the fall months, however in keeping with Soergel, these seasonal desserts get swapped for Christmas candies and cookies come November. Retailer staples equivalent to produce, jellies and Soergel’s private favourite, apple butter, keep the identical year-round.
“I really like our apple butter,” Soergel mentioned. “No sugar, no spice components, it’s my favourite. It’s candy and it’s simply one of many unsung heroes.”
Kim Gary, the orchard’s produce supervisor for the previous 22 years, mentioned the modifications in day-to-day work after the height season are completely different for Soergel’s in comparison with different retail shops.
“In contrast to different retail shops, winter isn’t our busy season,” Gary mentioned. ”Proper now we’re in our busiest season, after which after October we sluggish means down except for the bakery. The bakery, after all, will get very busy promoting pies and completely different merchandise for Thanksgiving.”
As enterprise begins to decelerate, the quantity of workers should be minimize down as properly. Gary mentioned the fluctuating seasonal workers consists largely of younger college students.
“There are individuals which might be seasonal. Loads of the younger college students that do Fall Competition are very seasonal,” Gary mentioned. “I do have some adults out there which might be seasonal too, and as soon as the busy time is over, they take time without work or in the reduction of a few days.”
Soergel mentioned the massive variety of younger staff are usually for the autumn, however they proceed to recruit for the winter vacation season as properly.
“We’re capable of rent, this 12 months, about 50 some college students. The winter will get quiet, however at the least by means of the autumn season, contemplating that we rent for six weeks, it’s a pleasant vacation gig,” Soergel mentioned. “When you want a little bit additional money, or if you wish to work weekends, we’re all the time inquisitive about college students.”
For Soergel, this ever-changing dynamic of seasonal work is what makes working on the orchard so pleasurable.
“I believe the opposite half about loving my work is that seasonally, it’s all the time completely different,” Soergel mentioned. “Each season has its personal enjoyable perks.”