HAYSVILLE, Kan. (KSNW) – A fifth generation peach orchard is back in business after a nearly two decade hiatus.
“Back in 2015, we restarted planting peach trees, and this is the fruit of our labor,” laughed Blood Orchard Owner and Operator Jeff Blood.
Jeff Blood, 45, grew up on the Blood Orchard in Haysville. His great, great grandfather moved to the corner of South Broadway and South 63rd Street in 1871.
“Slowly overtime, they went from hay and alfalfa and everything to planting apple trees and then in the late 20s planted a whole bunch, a slew of peach trees,” Jeff said.
The orchard was home to more than 15,000 peach trees by the mid 1980s.
“It was going 100 mph,” Jeff explained. “This whole side was full of trees, across the street was full of trees. Where Pine Bay Golf Course is, that is our golf course over there, and that was full of trees. We had acreage down in Belle Plaine that was full of trees. We were everywhere.”
Blood, his siblings, his parents and a large staff was tasked with tending to the peach trees.
“It was lots of work, lots of work back then, but it was worth every minute of it. It was so much fun to see thousands of people come and pick peaches,” he said.
However, the picking came to a halt in the late 1980s. Blood said salt in the groundwater killed the crop.
“All of the trees were gone by 89,” Blood said. “We basically got out of the whole thing, quit it right then and there.”
Quitting is not in Jeff’s blood, but peaches are. He returned to the orchard in 2014.
“I grew up this way. I wanted my kids to grow up this way,” he said.
“It means family to me. It’s his heart and he’s a part of my heart, so this is our family,” said Jeff’s wife and Blood Orchard Owner and Operator Jessica Blood.
Since 2014, the family has planted about 600 peach trees among other produce on the farm.
This year’s harvest has gone better than planned. The orchard has sold out of peaches each time it has opened for business.
“They’re the best peaches I have ever eaten, honestly, and that’s no lie!” said customer Galen McArthur.
“They are delicious. They are just real sweet and juicy and they’re just good to eat,” said customer Jan Stevens. “We want them to be back big time, like big orchards like they used to have.”
Jeff said his goal is to continue to grow the peach orchard while sharing a piece of peach history with the community.
“People come in and they will say, ‘oh, my grandma brought me out here. My mom brought me out here. We picked peaches and I had a belly ache and I was sticky from head-to-toe,'” Jeff said.
Blood Orchard’s business hours vary. It is open to the public, so long as the Bloods have peaches to sell. They also have pumpkins, apples and cherries on the farm.
Call 316-524-4207 or check the Blood Orchard Facebook page for dates and times of operation.