The Founders of Minnesota Harvest
Established in 1971
Dr. Kenath H. Sponsel (1919-1979)
It’s all my fault.
Mildred Lollar Sponsel (1919-2004)
That’s right, Bunny.
The Short Version
In 1970 Doc & Mid Sponsel bought this hill — corn and soybeans at the time. They had plans for an apple orchard. What better to keep their six boys out of trouble? (The 2 girls were angels and didn’t need a plan.) But all eight of us were recruited to start planting. Five years later 25,000 trees were in the ground and apples coming in. In those days Dad would stand at the door of the little building coaxing customers to try the yellow (golden) apples. Minnesotans ate only RED apples, and that wasn’t so long ago.
For 35 years the family continued to enhance the orchard experience for our guests. My brother, Topper (18) was at the helm. He loved this place, these trees, and everyone who came to enjoy and share the fruit of everyone’s labor. In 2005, not long after Mother(Mid) Sponsel died, we had to sell the land. But, the new owner extended a generous lease to Topper to continue operating the Orchard. Topper died suddenly 3 months later (age 53) and the lease was taken over by others with more short term interests. Suffice it to say, the Sponsel family, along with local partners, have stepped in to renovate and restore the operation.
Here we are today. We know we cannot reproduce all the features you have come to expect right away. Rejuvenating the trees and buildings has taken all year. Great care and hard work has gone into growing this 2011 crop. Many devoted friends have worked without pay, and out of pocket to be able to open the gates in time for you this year. We hope you come out and enjoy your day.
~ Susan (Sponsel) Kelly
Written by: Scott Chaussee, International Apple Institute