Bringing an orchard back to life – Methow Valley news

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Photo by Joanna Bastian
Arcana Ferschke, left, and Rose Walker-Young in their orchard on Libby Creek.
Photo by Joanna Bastian
Owner Arcana Ferschke, left, and neighbor Clementine Palińska at the Orchard House donut stand: Donuts sell out quickly at Methow Valley Farmers Market.

Orchard House products are successful at the farmers’ market

If you’re in the mood for fresh gourmet donuts, Arcana Ferschke and Rose Walker-Young are here to satisfy that hunger.

Ferschke is a professional baker and pastry chef with experience in the Seattle and Portland areas. Walker-Young is a professional farmer. Together, the husband and husband team take care of their orchard located on Libby Creek.

The fruit of their labor translates into Orchard House donuts, made with fresh fruit and locally made frostings, syrups and sauces, which can be found at the Methow Valley Farmers Market in Twisp on Saturday mornings.

Ferschke and Walker-Young moved to the Methow Valley in late 2019, following their longtime friend Emily Plott after years of visiting the valley. The couple fell in love with the landscape and the community. As they toured potential properties in the Methow Valley, real estate agent Emily Gibson asked them what they thought about community-driven projects.

Ferschke and Walker-Young were excited about the prospect of working with neighbors to take care of the land. The Libby Creek property ticked all of its boxes: garden spaces, mature fruit trees, commercial kitchen, and a communal garden on a shared piece of land.

The property was once owned by Joyce Campbell and Bernie Bigelow. Some readers may remember Campbell’s fruit pies, Bigelow’s guitars, and the community garden they cultivated in Libby Creek for decades.

Resurrection

When not tending to fruit trees or creating gourmet delights, Ferschke is a teacher at the Little Star Montessori School in Winthrop. His Germanic surname, Ferschke, translates to “peach,” an apt name for a market garden baker.

Ferschke has spent several years cultivating in southern Oregon and is new to tree care. “It’s the big experience,” he said, “it’s an interesting learning curve – you try something and wait two years to see the results of your efforts.”

Ferschke affectionately touched the leaves of an aging apple tree and noted that the hardest part of orchard maintenance is deciding “who stays and who goes”, which older trees need to be removed to make room for the growth of young trees.

Walker-Young takes advantage of resurrection projects on the property. The orchard has more than 80 trees with various fruits: cherry, pear, peach, apricot and apple trees. Native currants grow in gardens along with gooseberries and raspberries. Vegetables, herbs, and flowers grow in orderly rows, attracting dozens of native pollinators. Walker-Young also manages the shared community garden.

Variety of products

The house had a commercial kitchen from when it was a tofu factory. Its past is documented in the extensively annotated book, “History of Soybean Cultivation: 270 BCE to 2020”.

Orchard House’s kitchen is now used to prepare tasty sauces, jams and syrups, some of which can be enjoyed with the freshly made donuts on offer at Methow Valley Farmers Market. “I like to incorporate fresh, seasonal fruit,” Freschke said, such as filling a donut with currant jam or garnishing it with fresh cherries. A recent favorite at the Farmers Market was a donut stuffed with strawberry cream.

In the future, Freschke and Walker-Young would like to bring value-added products made from the orchard to the market.

“Apple cider syrup is regional, local, and tastes much better than maple syrup,” Walker-Young said. Freschke added that they’ve enjoyed their apple cider syrup all winter on cornmeal pancakes Walker-Young made from corn grown in their backyard.

For now, Farmers Market customers will just have to settle for donut-coated orchard fruits.

“After the pandemic and going holed up, the market was a blessing for seeing people, meeting people and having conversations,” Freschke said. “We are truly grateful to all of our neighbors who have stepped up to help Orchard House. “


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