October 1, 2013
Wheeler Orchard is a family owned operation that began in 1978 and is located at the end of a beautiful 45 minute drive from Chattanooga along 27 North and Hwy. 111 in Dunlap, Tennessee. It’s tucked away in the mountains of Sequatchie County and makes for a perfect fall daytrip in October. A stroll through the grounds reveals rows and rows of apple trees representing over a dozen varieties that can be purchased at the farm store served fresh, or as treats transformed into a variety of goodies like chilled apple cider, jams and jellies. On the farm store shelves you will also find pickled items, sauces, butters, and even hand knit items made by the family that runs the farm.
On the day we visited, a tour group from Channels of Love, a nonprofit HIV/AIDS support service, was learning about growing apples and other fresh food as part of the farm’s outreach efforts. Wheeler Orchard’s primary business is farming, but farmer Jane Mauldin says outreach and education also plays a role in bringing fresh food to the community. “A trip to the farm opens up the world to the people we serve” says Beth Dotson, Channels of Love Client Services representative. “For many of our families, this is the first time they’ve been to a farm”.
Wheeler Orchard uses sustainable farming practices and went organic just last year. Though it’s difficult for the farm to produce an abundance of “number one” quality apples for many retail purchaser (they just began partnering with Whole Foods), they are still able to offer affordable prices at farmers markets, and to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank for “seconds” as a Farm to Family partner. Mauldin has plans to add a prep kitchen and cafe in the near future and welcomes the opportunity to host visits from community organizations in the meanwhile.
Vist Wheeler Orchard:
965 Wheeler Rd. Dunlap, TN