About 145 miles west of Spokane, Karen Beller cultivates a cornucopia. Her 128 acres grow apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, berries and table grapes – a harvest that includes the Sweet Louise, a unique variety of apple found only on her orchard.
This month, SPS students will have a chance to sample one of the products from Beller’s Bunny Laine Orchard, as her pears are the November Harvest of the Month.
“I grow four varieties of pears, including Concorde pears,” she explained. “The Concorde pear is a ‘dessert pear’ with a somewhat crisp texture. They are difficult to grow so they are not grown by many commercial growers in Washington.”
Beller’s parents started Bunny Laine, which includes a 40-acre certified organic orchard, in 1974. She took over ownership in 2007, and has just two or three steady employees from June through October. Bunny Laine is part of a five-farm cooperative of small-scale orchards that pools resources to sell and haul their fruit on the west side of the mountains from Rochester to Bellingham, and on the east side in Spokane.
“Buying local is so important to the overall economy in Washington state,” she said, “as well as to small communities, consumers and farmers.”
Beller appreciates the Harvest of the Month program’s bountiful benefits.
“It allows small-scale farms an opportunity to provide quality fruit to the schools,” she said, “and it lets kids try out new fruit varieties that they may not know about except through this program.”
In addition to the lunchroom salad bar, students can find Concorde pears this month in honey cinnamon baked pears with yogurt and granola.