All things literacy — Authors, Books, Connections . . .

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Apples Galore -- and books - Wilson's Orchard

Apples Galore and Books - and orchard rides and much more

When my children were young one could go to the grocery store and find a rack of "Little Golden Books" for 25¢ or perhaps 50¢ but at a time when baby food was just 5¢ a jar, even that price was pricey but because they were there we purchased many books for their bookshelves.  Many were illustrated by illustrators that went on to be big names in children's books.
Today the big warehouse/discount stores have books but seldom does one just find good children's books in local specialty stores, those small shops that draw a special audience.  So when I went searching for apples at an apple orchard I was pleasantly surprised to find a table of great children's books available for purchase -- Books and Apples, two of my favorite things.  I knew this was sure to be a great place to visit.

Wilson's Orchard

The address is sort of hidden on their website but the orchard is located at
2924 Orchard Lane NE; Iowa City, Iowa 52240.  It's easy to reach right off
of Highway 1 - south of Solon Iowa, north of I-80. Find Diggleberry Rd NE
(isn't that a wonderful name?) You will see directional signs.
Orchard Lane is just down the way. And soon you will see this welcome sign.

Inside there is an array of "butters" - apple butter,
plum butter, peach butter, and a cherry apple butter.
I purchased two jars of apple butter, and one of the
cherry apple butter.  I know I will like the apple butter
but not sure about the cherry apple butter.  We will see.

And then there were the books -- these books are three authored
by Iowa City author
Claudia McGehee. The titles include: A Tallgrass
Prairie Alphabet, Where do Birds Live,
and A Woodland Counting

And there were books about apples and pumpkins. 
Apples for Everyone by Jill Esbaum (another Iowa Author),
National Geographic Children's Books, 2009. and the Pumpkin
by Gail Gibbons  (Holiday House, 1999) -- For a list of
more pumpkin books go to:
And an apple tasting station.  The apple peeler he was using really
did work and a person can purchase one of them for around $30.00. 
A great pie if one is going to peel a lot of apples.  I decide I like
their Burgundy apple best- it was crisp and just the right amount of
sweetness - not too tart, not overly sweet.

Claudia McGehee's beautiful cards were available
along with prints and art from other local artists. 
I purchased the Cardinal card shown here on the left. 

I wish it were the same size but vertical --
I have just the spot in my kitchen where a framed
card just that size would fit perfectly.  I love this print.
There were plenty of customers -- of all types
purchasing apples and apple products.  Others were
busy taking a tractor and wagon tour of the apple
And of course plenty of apples already picked
and ready to purchase.
And more apples.

This was one person's "take" -- apple, blueberry,
and cherry pies, jars of peach butter, plum butter,
and apple butter, apple cider, and apples.

I am always interested in the history of places I visit in Iowa.  History is a story well told and helps me make a connection to people and places.  The Wilsons no longer own Wilson's Orchard.  The orchard is owned by Paul Rasch and in 2012 he spoke about growing apples in spite of the weather. And in 2013 he spoke to Iowa Press-Citizen about the 2013 crop.  It seems Rasch purchased the orchard in 2009.  His brother (and other family members) live in Michigan and along with his brother's neighbor they are able to supply Rasch with fresh cherries and blueberries for his market here in Iowa. Rasch strives to provide great fruit of all types in addition to apples: cherries, blueberries, peaches, apricots, and raspberries. 
With a little investigation, I found out that the Wilson Orchard was started by Robert "Chug" Wilson for almost thirty years (1980-2009) who built a tradition that inspired a great deal of loyalty from the community.  Paul Rasch grew up in Michigan and had been involved in large commericial orchards -- spanning over hundreds of acres, and most recently had spent 13 years in China running a juice business. When they returned to the United States they wanted a Midwestern college town -- they found Iowa City and the Wilson Apple Orchard.  Since taking over Rasch has created an inviting area in the barn gift shop, which includes a bakery for baked goods made on site.  Chug Wilson is still involved in the business however, he is the resident patriarch.  He is the one on the tractor giving wagon rides into the orchard and making sure the guests know just where the best apples are for the picking.  He and his wife continue to live above the barn -- truly the keepers of the orchard, still.

The orchard has a website at -- but the developers of their site missed giving visitors two important bits of information.  1) This is a local business - the address and location of the orchard needs to be on every page, if not in the banner heading then at least in the footer.  Wouldn't take much to put that address and phone number there.  How else is a newbie supposed to find you.  My GPS wants an address. 2) Part of the charm of this location is the history of the place -- let us in on the evolution of the orchard.  A few pictures of Mr. Wilson himself - -pay homage to the guy (and his wife) who garnered such loyalty and love from the community and a little about Mr. Rasch.  I don't even find his name on the site.  A local business should build on the neighborliness of that business and the community ties.  But that is a critique of the website -- not of the orchard as once I got there it was wonderful.
Rasch is able to offer other fruits like cherries, blueberries, peaches, apricots and raspberries. - See more at:

Paul Rasch

A great visit to Wilson's Orchard - September is apples galore but along comes October and pumpkins will be in season. 


  1. Thanks for the post and the mention, Sharron- it is one of my favorite places to go, too. And I noted your request for vertical format cardinals! Your wish may come true. Keep an eye out...and an apple a day to you!

  2. Claudia -- I love the sense of anticipation ... --
    “...anticipation of happiness can sometimes be as gratifying as its consummation.”
    ― Gaynor Arnold, Girl in a Blue Dress.