Summer Field Tour – fruits and vegetables – Facts for Fancy Fruit

Summer Field Tour – fruits and vegetables

Garwood Orchards logo

Garwood Orchards

Following the success of last year’s Summer Field Tour at Tuttle Orchards, this year we are again planning a combined summer field tour with the Indiana Horticultural Society, the Indiana Vegetable Growers’ Association and the Indiana Farm Market Association. We will be hosted by Garwood Orchards in La Porte, IN. While we encourage membership in these industry organizations, all those who are interested are welcome and invited to attend, regardless of membership status.

Garwood Orchards is one of the largest and best managed orchards in the state.  It may seem puzzling that they can manage such a large operation and manage it so well. That’s why we’re visiting – to not only be inspired but learn a few of their tricks and see how they do it. They have aggressively planted new cultivars and crops and have been on the forefront of adopting new technologies. They are major producers of fruits and vegetables and in recent years have greatly expanded their farm market.

It may seem like quite a drive to travel to the meeting this year, especially for those in southern parts of the state, but I’m confident you’ll pick up some good ideas to implement at your farm making the trip worthwhile.

Farm history
The main orchard land has been in the Garwood family since 1831, and the Garwoods have been fruit farmers since the 1920’s.   The orchards are owned by Tom, Mike and Brian Garwood who represent the 6th generation.  Carl is pretty much “retired” from major decision-making, but like many farmers have not quite fully understood the meaning of “retirement”.  He still works everyday doing many of the things nobody else wants to do. Tom’s parents James and Phyllis passed away earlier this decade and were instrumental along with Carl in growing the business from the mid 50s to the mid 90s. Despite the long history of Garwood Orchards, this is still very much a family business. The Garwoods have been very active in the Indiana Hort. Society and both Jim and Brian Garwood are past presidents and Tom and Mike have served on the IHS Executive Board or on committees.  They have also been strongly involved in the Indiana Vegetable Growers’ Association.

The Garwoods currently farm over 450 acres which includes approximately 140 acres of apples. Peaches, raspberries, strawberries, plums, blueberries, cherries, and blackberries round out the rest of the fruit acreage. They now grow more vegetables than fruit which consist of bell peppers, several kinds of hot peppers, cucumbers, pickles, sweet corn, green beans, eggplant, tomatillo, and some pumpkins for u-pick.

The Garwoods have been actively replanting their orchards with newer varieties, rootstocks and growing systems. Of the apples, about 90% of trees are less than 15 years old. All recent plantings have been on the tall spindle system with trees planted 3-4 feet apart in the rows giving tree densities around 1200 trees per acre. In terms of apple varieties, Gala, Honeycrisp, Evercrisp, Fuji, Pink Lady and Pixy Crunch make up most of the plantings made in the last 5 years.

The peach variety picture consists of about 50% of the newer Paul Friday selections (Brian says they have tried most of them). Then perhaps 25% are Redhaven and other standards, and 25% are the ‘Stellar’ varieties.  There is a small planting of White Lady and some of the newer varieties from Adam’s County Nursery.  They have established “research” or “evaluation” blocks in which they have made small plantings of a number of new tree fruits or new varieties to test including 9 from the MAIA program.

On the small fruit side, at meeting time, the Garwoods should be just wrapping up harvest on their strawberries. They are using a 1 mil row cover for extending the season and for frost control. They also have portable irrigation. Plantings of red and black raspberries and thornless blackberries on ridges look very good. Increasingly, they are planting on plastic, especially for strawberries, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers and pumpkins.

Fruit and vegetables are sold both retail and wholesale. Retail and especially UPICK and school tours have become much more prominent at Garwoods, and the market at the farm has been expanded greatly over recent years and includes an enlarged bakery. A wide range of produce is sold in the market, as well as fresh donuts. A high percentage of their fruits and vegetables are still sold through wholesale outlets to large chain stores and through brokers. They have several cold storages, including one capable of being CA. The use of ‘Smart Fresh’ to extend storage life has been very helpful. The fruit packing line includes a waxer for wholesale sales.

They are now also concentrating on growing vegetables for wholesale including sweet corn, green beans, eggplant, pickles, cucumbers, tomatillos and peppers. They have also installed a new vegetable packing line. The Garwood’s still make their own cider. The press is now a Frontier Technology continuous feed press housed in a separate press room. The cider is also pasteurized, using a Thermoline pasteurizer.

Garwood’s also hold a Primus GFS certificate for food safety. They have completed that audit on the ranch, packing and harvesting for several years to satisfy requirements of wholesale customers.

Garwood Orchards
5911 W 50 South
LaPorte, IN 46350

The orchard location can be found in Google maps:,-86.815679,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x678e84d551c18e95!8m2!3d41.600327!4d-86.8156794?hl=en

Program schedule:

Tuesday June 26:

NOTE: Garwood’s are on Central Daylight (Chicago) time. Times listed are local time.

Garwood Orchard, LaPorte, IN

8:30 am           Registration. Coffee and donuts.

9:00 am           Welcome and Introductions

Orchard tour – fruit

11:15 am         Indiana Hort. Society business meeting

12:00 pm         Lunch – cookout at the farm.

1:00 pm           Field tour – vegetables

3:00 pm           Farm marketing and tour of facilities

5:00 pm           Conclude tour and depart


Motels in the LaPorte Co. area include:

Hampton Inn and Suites, Michigan City, IN. $129 + tax. Phone: 855-238-159

Holiday Inn Express, La Porte, IN. $116 + tax. Phone: 855-239-9222

Blue Jay Manor, Michigan City, IN. $80 + tax.  Phone: 877-429-7381

Share This Article
It is the policy of the Purdue University that all persons have equal opportunity and access to its educational programs, services, activities, and facilities without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, disability or status as a veteran. Purdue is an Affirmative Action Institution. This material may be available in alternative formats. 1-888-EXT-INFO Disclaimer: Reference to products in this publication is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in this publication assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.