If you ask the Creasman family to name their favorite apples, they won’t hem and haw.
“My most favorite apple that we grow on the farm is a Swiss Gourmet,” says Dawn Cresman.
“I like a Rusty Coat. It has its own unique texture on the outside, but it’s a really kind of sweet tart, crisp apple,” says Haley Creasman.
“My husband and I actually have the same favorite apple, and that’s the Sansa apple. It’s very crisp and juicy,” adds Colby Buchanan.
They grow dozens of varieties at Creasman Farms in Henderson County, North Carolina, but choosing a favorite apple isn’t like picking a favorite child. Dawn Creasman and her daughters, Haley Creasman and Colby Buchanan, have enough love for every variety and every customer. They’re three of the many family members who work together to connect the farm’s apples with the local community.
Apples have been the family business since Clarence Creasman managed the Dana Apple Co-Op and sold his apples at state farmers markets in South Carolina. After his passing, the family took a break from apple farming until his son, Bobby, and daughter-in-law, Dawn, took over the farm in the 1980s.
Now the farm is known for its many varieties and strong relationships with customers, but back then, Bobby and Dawn grew just a few kinds of apples that they sold to large apple processing plants like Gerber. When the plants started closing and paying less for apples, Dawn and Bobby decided to go back to their family’s roots — selling directly to customers at farmers markets.
“We say we have a market family and that’s what we want. We want people to know that we’re interested in what they’re doing and hope that they’re interested in what we’re doing. It just makes a community,” says Dawn.
Personal relationships with customers are now the bedrock of their business.
“We strive to know our customers and try to serve them with what they need and want as much as we can. They have watched Colby and Haley grow up and in turn we have watched them have families and now some of the kids that used to come to market are actually coming and bringing their children,” Dawn says.
Haley and Colby were kids when they first started helping at farmers markets. Now Haley is 35 and works as a teacher’s assistant. Colby is 28 and works as an accountant. They’re still very active in the family business. They both work on the farm to help with growing and harvesting. Colby is the farm’s social media coordinator and Haley especially loves working the farmers markets.
They rely on each other and a small group of young women to work as many as six markets per week, and they open their farm to apple picking and agritourism in September and October. There are also countless winter, spring, and summer tasks in the orchard. Dawn says there’s never enough time to get everything done. Colby says that as a Type-A planner, dealing with the ups and downs of Mother Nature is a challenge.
Yet there are some things the family can count on—there’s always work to be done and family to share it with. Colby and her husband Kameron recently had a child, and even though he’s still a baby, Dawn is proud that he’s growing up by their sides on the farm.
“We are hoping that he is going to have a love of the land and the love of farming. He’s been helping us since he was here. We’ve been hauling him around in the back of our gater, and he’s supervised the picking process, packing process, just about everything we do,” Dawn says.
Colby is looking forward to sharing more of the family business with her son as he gets older. Chances are, customers will get to know him at farmers markets, too.
“I think that as the generations grow, we grow with the market. When you incorporate your whole family into the farmer’s market aspect, it leads the way for the market to continue in the future,” Colby says.
Find more information about Creasman Farms and where to find their apples in ASAP’s Local Food Guide: www.appalachiangrown.org
Aired: February 1, 2021