Darrell and Sharon Haen purchased the orchard in 2013, excited to be running the orchard where Darrell grew up.
Even at a young age, Darrell (right)
and his brothers Doug and Kim
helped out at Star Orchard.
Family owned for almost 60 years
For over 50 years, Star Orchard has had deep family roots in the small community of Hollandtown, Wisconsin. First planted in 1962, the orchard was originally called "Haen's Star Orchard" after the three Haen families who started the orchard; Jerome & Merzetha Haen, Ken & Joan Haen and Ivo & Carol Haen. After many years of hardwork and dedication from the families, the orchard was sold to Don Rademacher in 1975. Don (Jerome & Merzetha's nephew) would own the orchard until his retirement 38 years later.
In 2013, Darrell (Jerome & Merzetha's youngest son) and his wife Sharon jumped at the chance of purchasing the orchard upon Don's retirement. They had dreamed of owning the orchard for many years and Darrell was especially excited to be back on the land he grew up on. He fondly remembers his younger days at the orchard playing in the flooded creek bed with his brothers, helping prune trees in the winter, along with picking and grading apples in the autumn.
Although Darrell was quite young when the orchard began, his older siblings remember helping plant the very first trees. Some of those original McIntosh and Cortland trees are still producing quality apples and are available during "Pick-Your-Own" season.
Through the years, Star Orchard has grown significantly in size and has become one of the largest apple orchards in Northeast Wisconsin with its 55 acres and 20 varieties of apples. These apples range from traditional McIntosh and Cortland apples to the more specialty varieties such as Melrose, Jonagold and Honeycrisp.
Star Orchard takes great pride in using traditional growing and harvesting methods, including picking, sorting and bagging all apples by hand during the fall. By doing so, they are able to maintain the highest quality apples possible, as well as to provide jobs in the community.
Darrell and Sharon enjoy working in the orchard year round, as well as seeing how the trees change throughout the seasons. But it's autumn they enjoy most, when the orchard fills up with families and friends coming to pick apples and visit the store. Sharon says "Our first picking season was wonderful. We met so many interesting people and are looking forward to next September. Bring out the family, we'd love to meet you!"
Sharon also explains that “we want to keep it family orientated. We have third generation customers and we’ve been hearing a lot of interesting stories and memories from people that brought their children, and are now bringing their grandchildren!”
The orchard was originally known as
"Haen's Star Orchard". If you look closely, there are still crates in use today with the original name printed on them.
As the ol' saying goes, don't fix what ain't broken; This scale has been weighing the apples for decades.