The Thiessen Orchards property has been a part of our family since 1933, when my grandfather purchased the land to grow tobacco. It wasn’t until 1969 when my father, now known as Farmer Pete, harvested the first apples.
One of the first memories I have on the orchard is when I was around 5 or 6 years old and my siblings, cousins and I would play on the stacks of apple bins. I remember a big stack of firewood behind the Kountry Kitchen that we would move around and build forts. We really had an endless supply of materials on the orchard that we could use to play.
In our spare time as kids, we would run around in the greenhouses playing hide and seek. They were warm all year round so it was the perfect place for our parents to get rid of us for a while. We’d also ride our dirt bikes around the orchard and do other fun things.
My mother would always prepare a BIG, hot lunch for us while we were working. Mashed potatoes, stuffed peppers, meatloaf, ham— you name it, she made it! We ate like kings.
Around the age of 8, I was ready to take on my first job on the orchard and took my post making popcorn. After that I helped with odds jobs like repainting the Kountry Kitchen.
Thiessen Orchards was truly a family affair. Aunts and uncles would lug around playpens so my younger cousins would stay safe while their parents helped around the grounds or sold food out of the kitchen. At the end of the day, the adults would have a drink and visit, and they would order pizza for us kids as a reward for our hard work!
Our childhood, needless to say, was very fun, loving, and full of hard work!
When I hit university age and prepared to move away, my parents offered to give me one of our older farm trucks to take to school. But there was a catch – I had to come home to work during the busy apple season.
Seeing my parents build up the family business taught me a lot. My dad was outgoing and laid back at the same time, but my favourite thing about him was that he was kind to everyone. Whether it was customers, his brothers, sister, the kids or my mom, he always showed his appreciation.
As a business owner, there will always be bad days or days when we’re stressed out, but he instilled in me at a young age to treat the people that are helping you with kindness and respect.
Many years have passed since that first apple harvest in 1969, but I will always hold the memories my family and I made close to my heart, and I will hold the wise words of my father even closer.