Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 19, 2013

Pickin' love

From apples to ‘I do,’ orchard find new growth

By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PEMBROKE, Va. —  Giles County, Va., resident Allison Hollopter, 33, isn’t sure what to expect on Memorial Day weekend. An event coordinator, she will oversee the first wedding at her family’s apple orchard called Doe Creek Farm. Her grandparents, William and Rosemary Freeman, bought the farm in 1978.

“This is the old Hoge Orchard, owned by the Hoge family” Hollopter said. “The area is known as Hoges Chapel and is located between Pembroke and Maybrook.”

The orchard is more than a 100 years old and was a commercial apple orchard. Her grandparents maintained the farm for years. Rosemary passed away in 2000. In 2009, Hollopter moved from Botetourt County, Va., to Pembroke with her husband Gary. They wanted to help her grandfather. William passed away in April 2013.  

“I was born in Giles County and lived here until I was 7. Then I was here every summer. It was kind of home for me. This is home ... there was never any question,” Hollopter said.

 Together they started Doe Creek Kennels on the property. Later, her mother Georgia Haverty retired from D.C., and began helping with the orchard.

“She planted a pick-your-own dwarf orchard. The orchard should be ready to produce apples in 2014,” Hollopter said.

Haverty planted 17 different varieties of apples on four acres.

“I planted about 1,200 trees last spring and planted 320 trees this year,” Haverty said. “Its been a two-year period.”

No longer a commercial orchard, they had no use for the packing house — where the apples were cleaned, sorted and packed for shipping — on the property. So Hollopter, along with her mother, decided to turn the farm into an venue for brides.

“My mom had been talking about that for years, doing something with weddings. When she decided to do the pick-your-own orchard, we had a large building and nothing to do with it,” Hollopter said.

Instead of tearing the packing house down, they called in a contractor to renovate and turn it into a wedding venue.

“The building boasts approximately 3,500 square feet, enclosed (heated and cooled) with large windows and French doors, framing the views of the orchard, pastures and mountains. Amenities include two large bathrooms; beautiful, new hardwood floors; thoughtfully selected lighting; a nine-speaker sound system; and a large deck, overlooking the orchard,” Hollopter said. “We’ve kept the old, rustic exterior of the original packing house. The covered entry has changed little, which makes the interior even more strikingly beautiful and unexpected.”

They believe the packing house was built in the early 1900s; construction workers found a dated coin underneath the house during the renovations. The property also includes the main farmhouse, built in the late 1800s. Brides can get married in an outdoor ceremony in front of the house, or in the packing house. The receptions are held in the packing house as well.

Hollopter said they try to keep everything simple.

“We wanted to have everything here to keep rentals low and to keep brides from having to purchase extras,” she added.

Doe Creek Farms provided shepherd’s hooks with mason jars, gold Chiavari chairs with ivory cushions, tablecloths with matching cloth napkins, tables and more.

“You can basically come in with a florist and be ready to go,” Hollopter said.

She said brides are excited about the venue, many remember coming to the farm on elementary school trips and are delighted in the changes.

“It seems as if people are looking for private venues and are looking for something a little different,” Hollopter said.

Her mother said it isn’t unusual to combine orchards and weddings. Haverty said many agriculture businesses are taking advantage of the wedding season. She expects September and October to be busy wedding months, but people will still be able to pick apples in 2014. Doe Creek Farms expects a small crop.

A mother-daughter team, Haverty and Hollopter split up the duties. Haverty spends time in the orchard, spraying, weeding and tying branches, and her daughter takes care of the brides, like Carlie Shott, 22, of Bluefield.

Shott is getting married on Aug. 17. But it was her future sister-in-law who found Doe Creek Farm on the Internet. Once Shott arrived on the property, she fell in love with the rustic look.

“I liked the fact that it was an apple orchard. There are not a lot of options for outdoor ceremonies, plus it is rustic but modern enough for a wedding,” she added.

For more information on Doe Creek Farm, visit www.doecreekfarm.com or call 540-293-4521.

— Contact Jamie Parsell at jparsell@bdtonline.com.