The story of Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill is the story of the American family farm. Our farming roots can be traced back to the turn of the 20th century. Farming is a never ending job, but we love it nonetheless.
Our family is the heart of the apple business, and Spencer Prewitt began the family tradition. Spencer began growing apples in a time before modern convinces. Instead of selling his produce to just a local general store or nearby families, Spencer would load an old wagon and begin the long trek to the piedmont of North Carolina. Along the way he would sell or barter his fruit and enjoy Grandma Sara’s fried pies.
Julius, Spencer’s son, followed in his father’s footsteps and continued to grow apples. Julius and his wife Lilly had twelve children. Two of the children inherited the apple growing gene and either purchased or planted their own orchards. Harley Prewitt Sr., Julius’ son, purchased an existing orchard that became known as Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill.
Harley and his wife Essie purchased the orchard in 1955. At first, Harley sold his harvest in the manner of his grandfather, peddling apples from the back of an old 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck. Over time, apples were sold at the orchard. In later years, additional trees were planted, and apples were sold through packing houses. The South Mountain Packing House was built in the 1970’s by local growers, including Harley. Over time, the market for selling fruit through packing houses became more difficult. South Mountain Packing House was ultimately closed.
In an effort to maintain the farm, the Prewitt family began planting new varieties of apples and went back to their roots of selling apples directly to their customers. A cold storage facility was added along with a county store. In 1994, the cider mill was added, and then an apple cider flash pasteurizer was added a few years later. The additions of the Country Store and Cider Mill greatly expanded the orchard.
The Prewitt family opened the orchard for you pick in the early 2000s. The bakery was opened in the fall of 2007. Both have quickly become customer favorites. Currently, the Prewitts are always looking for new ways to expand Apple Hill Orchard and to keep alive the tradition of growing apples. Our business is a family business that has stretched across generations, and is now entering into its fifth generation, which will bring new ideas to the orchard.
Sadly many orchard and family farms are no longer able to survive. Our family’s orchard is part of the Enola Community that rests in the South Mountains of western North Carolina. During the time of Harley Sr., the Enola community was referred to as “the heart of the fruit growing country” by Dr. Edward W. Phiefer, Jr. in his book Burke. However, over time, other apple orchards have disappeared and Apple Hill Orchard is the last remaining apple orchard in Burke County.
“Apples have been a part of my family’s history for a long time. It is hard for me to imagine great Grandpa Spencer peddling apples from a wagon around 1900. But my father remembered Grandpa Spencer, his orchard, and the stories he told about his peddling trips. Dad even enjoyed the fried pies from his Grandma Sara’s kitchen.”
Harley Prewitt, Jr.