McManus Family Fruit

 

FIRST GENERATION

Scott's grandparents, Hal and Ina McManus, started the farm in 1917. The original twenty acres, like many farms of its day, were a diverse operation with horses, pigs, chickens, alfalfa and corn.

The first fruit trees were set out in 1920, and it quickly became apparent that growing fruit was the future for the McManus family. With apples as their focus (this is Washington), Hal and Ina planted Winesaps, Common Delicious and Jonathons -- and one acre of D'Anjou pears. Two of those original D'Anjou trees, about 85 years old, are still on the property producing premium crops.  

 
SECOND GENERATION  

In the late 1940's two of Hal and Ina's sons, Gene and Lyle, took over the orchard only to find themselves growing the wrong apples for a changing market. The public was mostly interested in less-complex, sweet, red apples.

The apples that Gene and Lyle were raising were not sweet enough (Winesaps) or red enough (Common Delicious).  The McManus brothers then set out on what was to become their life's work, turning an apple orchard into a pear orchard.

A nursery was planted where several thousand pear rootstocks were set out and budded.  When the young trees were big enough, they were dug up and planted to replace the apple trees. Then the long wait began.  Pear trees grow slowly, with it taking about ten years for a tree to begin producing fruit and much longer to reach full production.     

On a tight budget, and with day jobs, Gene and Lyle's vision was accomplished.  It took twenty years before the first truly successful pear harvest.  By then Ina had passed on but Hal lived to get a glimpse of the future of his 'apple' orchard.

 
THIRD GENERATION--TODAY     

Gene and Carroll's son, Scott, returned to the orchard in the fall of 1979 to help with harvest, and has continued to farm ever since.  He describes his decision this way:  "Many of my friends at the time were interested, not so much in getting a job, but in having a place; it seemed that a farm was everyone's dream. I realized that I knew of just the one, and so I came home." Maggie joined him in the orchard in 1988. They have two children, Elly and Robert.

Scott:  "We are both biologists by training, and I'm an entomologist at heart.  We have spent many years observing insects in the orchard -- the helpful ones and the pests.  We are devoted to nurturing the beneficial insects on the farm as an alternative to using insecticides. Small parts of the orchard have always been organic and we now have 12 acres of pears and apples which are officially Washington State Certified Organic.

In the 1990's, we decided to branch out and explore some of the hundreds of heirloom pears we'd heard of but never tasted.  Many of these are difficult to find, so we began grafting our D'Anjou trees to varieties like Comice, Belle Lucrative, and Hendre Huffcap, to name a few. There are now twenty-five kinds of pears at various stages of production in the orchard. Growing them involves focus, passion, and patience. When the day comes, after the long gestation period, the excitement of trying the very first fruit of a new pear is the highlight of our family's evening.

As these pears grow and prosper, we look forward to sharing them with our friends and with you, as well.