Loomis Apple Ranch



            Robert Loomis, a Vermont native, began our family orchard in Southeast Idaho in 1979. Mr. Loomis spent most of his years in service to our country with the Army. On one of his many assignment changes, from Arizona to Alaska, he drove through Southeast Idaho and fished the World Famous Snake River.

            After serving on the inaugural committee in 1975 and the Bicentennial Committee in 1976 in Washington DC, he was given the choice of anywhere in the world to make his next assignment. He chose Idaho.

            His retirement was enjoyable because he had a dream to put an apple orchard, similar to the ones in the Northeast, here in Idaho. He wanted an apple that few people had already in their back yard. It turns out that the McIntosh Apple was not a popular one to plant, here in Idaho, because of the late season. This was perfect for dad because it was the variety of apple that was grown on the 5000 tree orchard in Vermont, while he was growing up.

            In 1979 he and his wife Ilse chose the first 10 acres on the west side of the valley between Inkom and McCammon Idaho and they began clearing the land of the 3 ½ - 6 foot tall sagebrush. They had chosen an area that had an incline so there would be no frost pockets during the spring so the blossoms could be as protected as possible. That first year was spent placing a house and clearing the land. After the prep work was done, and paying us kids 25¢ a hole he planted 150 of his first trees.

            That first summer was a trial and error with irrigation, sometimes with buckets, and mowing it was a learning experience for all of us. He got the irrigation in and planted more trees the next year, bound and determined to expand the orchard as much as possible so the small farm could be self-sustaining in a few years. Short term and long term plans were in place and there was the waiting.

            Waiting and caring for the trees until the time they would produce enough apples that more than a few lucky families could enjoy. Every year for the first 10 or so years dad built outbuildings and cleared more land and we ended up giving away bags of apples. He loved it. We didn’t realize how much he got done, he made it look easy.

            Finally around 1990ish we were picking bushel boxes and selling them at the local store. After a year or so of that, there were too many being thrown away for blemishes and bruises, dad and mom decided to press and cider the ‘cull’ apples rather than destroy them.

            Dad bought our first press, a hand crank. The cider was delicious and they spent some time coming up with a combination of types of apples to get the sweet tart just right. But soon the hand crank was too much work and dad was shopping around for an electric fruit press.

            An orchard about 10 miles south of the farm was struggling and called dad for some advise on why. It turns out that they had planted their 2000 trees in a frost pocket and they were doomed to very light crops, if any, ever year. Even if the weather was mild and other orchards would have thrived, their orchard could not bear much fruit, they decided to give up apples. Their, almost new, hydraulic press was for sale and they offered it to dad at a great price.

            Excited about his incredible find, dad made plans for expansion of the farm. New tractor, buildings, and equipment had to be found and purchased to make the farm produce enough to pay for itself, at the very least.

            He had a steel structure built to his specs. He wanted enough room to finish the inside with a huge walk-in fridge and a special ‘clean’ room that could be made as sterile as possible for pressing his apples. At the end of construction there was the ‘fridge’, the clean room, and a large area to put a fruit washer and sorting table. Officially named ‘The Apple Barn’, we do all our processing in one area.

            Farmers Market in fall is not complete without cider. Most purchase our cider because of the memorable taste. Some choose it because of the natural state of the apples, and the juice. Others taste it for the first time at the Southeast Idaho Farmers Market and have never tasted anything like it before and they become devoted customers.


            Tragically, Robert Loomis passed away in 1996. He did not get to see the farm flourish at its full potential. He is missed by family and friends.


             With two houses, and one less greenhouse, the farm has become a big part of the traditions of most families here in Southeast Idaho. A fire in 1998 took about 250 trees that were planted in 1995; they would have been producing at full capacity by 2005, but mom and I are keeping the orchard producing because of the love and tradition dad started and the great customers that have been loyal to us over the years.