History Of Appleland Orchard
Appleland, LLC is a family-run apple orchard, spanning three generations of the Espantman lineage. The development of the orchard began in 1946 by a man named George Schroeder. Mr. Schroeder was blind at the time he developed and planted the original 70 acre orchard, comprised of many apple varieties, two types of pears, cherries, and plums. When the trees were planted, Schroeder kept record of each individual tree on an index card which remained the system of record until the orchard was sold in 1963 to Stuart Carlson. Carlson owned the orchard for several years and is the source of the orchard’s current name, Appleland.
In 1966, Shah-Bahram (known as George) and Kaye Espantman purchased the orchard. George immigrated to the United States in 1946 from his home country of Iran. Although he grew up in the city of Tehran, George’s family owned a home in the country that included an orchard on the property. The fond memories of this orchard drew him to the orchard in Belgium, Wisconsin. George and his wife, Kaye, sold their first crop in 1967. Two years later; in 1969, the family began expanding the orchard. Each year additional acres of apples were planted until the orchard “blossomed” from the original 70 acres up to 130 acres.
The orchard was expanded in 1978 beyond its boundaries in Belgium, Wisconsin, when the farm on Highway 57 in the Town of Saukville, Wisconsin was purchased. Approximately 20 additional acres of apples were planted shortly after the purchase of the Saukville farm. In the meantime, the original apple trees planted by Schroeder were aging and the process of replacement plantings of the large, older trees with dwarf trees began. Modernization and new methods began to take hold. The last original trees were removed in 2014, closing an era of the large apple tree. Additional acreage was planted on Highway 57 in later years, adding more than 17,000 dwarf trees. The property spans one mile along Highway 57 and comprises up to 400 acres.
In 2009, the Appleland Farm Market on Highway 57 was opened. Prior to this, the roadside market resided at the family’s homestead at the orchard property location in Belgium, Wisconsin. Kaye greeted customers for 42 years in the Sales Room, from 1967 to that location’s closing in 2008. Kaye was a one-person operation for the majority of the time during those years. The Sales Room consisted of a small open hallway where apples were displayed with three walk-in coolers. The Market is now housed in an iconic red building with a green roof, containingplenty of room for customers to browse through the many varieties of apples along with a wide variety of other products. We offer both U-Pick apples and pumpkins in season and strive for old fashioned family fun at Appleland Farm Market.
Appleland has maintained a wholesale apple business since its early years. In 2011, a new packing facility was built with an updated processing line which works with computer controlled cameras. The cameras detect size, color and any imperfections on the apples. The apples are individually tracked on the grading system and move along and are distributed based upon the camera images. Production increased from 300 cases a day to nearly 1,000 cases through this new processing line. In 2014, an additional cooler was built to keep up with the volume of apples produced.
The orchard at present includes 15+ apple varieties, 3 varieties of pears, peaches, plums, cherries, pumpkins and squash. The orchard continues to be a family run business. George and Kaye still take part in the business. For more than twenty years, the field and wholesale operations were managed by their son-in-law, Edwin Bares. In 2017, two of Edwin’s sons, Nick and Jacob Bares, became part owners of the orchard, creating Appleland, LLC, and carrying on the family tradition for a third generation.