The Original Bowman Family Farm
The original farm on State Rt. 303, just east of W. 130th St. in Hinckley, Ohio, consisted of 108 acres that were purchased by Arthur W. Bowman in March, 1914. There was a farmhouse, a large bank-barn, a chicken coop and several outbuildings, including one which served as an airplane hanger. Arthur and his wife Nettie raised four sons, Howard, Ralph, Ward and Earl. At Arthur’s death in 1948, the farm was divided. Ninety-four acres were bought by Howard; he carried on general farming. In 1964, Howard’s portion of the farm was sold to the Lutheran Cemetery Association of Cleveland (now known as Hope Memorial Gardens). Ward purchased the remaining 14-acre parcel in 1948 and named it Hillside Orchard. Ward and wife June built a new house there for their family of three sons, Allen, Wayne and Thomas. In the Fall of 2014, after Ward’s death at the age of 100 years and 4 months, Allen purchased the 14 acres from June (age 97). The original orchard planting on the old farm was started in 1932. It consisted of 180 standard-size apple trees, 180 peach trees, 10 plum trees and 40 pear trees. Some of these trees are still producing today!
From 1948 to 1960 Ward expanded the peach orchard and added more apple trees until there were fruit trees all the way south to Rt. 303! In 1977, new plantings of dwarf apple trees and 175 peach trees were made, but very few of the peach trees survived the harsh winter that followed. Additional small apple trees have been added as the old ‘Standard size’ trees were eliminated. The orchard now encompasses 12 acres with 23 varieties of delicious apples, including Ohio’s own “Melrose“ apple, of course! Fresh fruit and produce have been sold at Hillside Orchard since 1948, when Rt. 303 was only a narrow country road. Ward Bowman placed a long board on top of two cement blocks, arranged his apples and instructed his three little boys to watch for customers. That was the humble beginning of Hillside Orchard.
In 1975 Ward and June’s oldest son, Allen, and his wife Judy closed their tire stores and began to help full time on the family farm. The “board and blocks” front yard display had long since been replaced by a small roadside stand. It evolved to a 16×8 ft. structure. Customers stood outside in all kinds of weather, making their selections from the fresh fruits and vegetables displayed on the front shelves. (Those were the days of large volume purchases, too, as housewives canned and froze sweet corn, peaches, applesauce, beans, pickles, etc., to feed their families until the next “fresh season.”)
A New Face with the Same Focus
As more people moved into the area, the business grew and the need for a larger building was evident. The present pole-barn market was erected in 1982, opening that August. Del Donohue of Channel 3’s “Del’s Folks” made Hillside Orchard a destination for family outings and gave us a bit of TV coverage!
Our new farm market building allowed for more display area plus a 16×20 ft. walk-in cooler to keep the just-picked produce as fresh as possible. An automatic donut machine supplied cake donuts to complement Hillside’s jugs of sweet apple cider.
Judy obtained licensing from the State of Ohio for her home kitchen and began to supply the market with homemade baked goods. As the demand for Hillside’s fresh bakery increased, Judy’s mother, Hilda, helped with the baking. Jim McIntyre, her father, donated all the old tools that add interest to our walls. Local crafters brought in their wares.
Much change was happening! Although the larger structure made Hillside Orchard look different to the passersby, the orchard, berry patches and veggie fields remained the focus of the family’s work. During the 1970’s, 80’s and early 90’s, lush strawberry beds invited young and old alike to fill quart baskets in the warm summer sun. Presently, those who enjoy Pick-Your-Own head for the blueberry patch from mid-July through August. In 1999, Pick-Your-Own was allowed for certain varieties of apples in the Fall, a practice which will continue while there is public interest in family fun of this sort!
More Than Meets the Eye
For many years, Hillside has offered School Field Trips to public and parochial school children, those who are home-schooled, and children from area day care centers and nursery schools. Every year about 1400 come to learn first-hand about how food is grown as they take hayrides through the orchard, past berry and pumpkin patches, vegetable fields and clusters of Beehives. Much is learned and wonderful memories are made here!
To supplement our selection of fresh produce in the farm market, Allen purchases local Amish-grown strawberries and additional vegetables not grown at Hillside. Also, the store shelves are stocked with Amish-made jams, jellies, pasta selections and Maple syrup. Amish cheese and other products are purchased from Walnut Creek Foods in Walnut Creek, Ohio.
Hillside honors WIC coupons for fresh produce during the growing season. This Medina County program is a big help to young mothers and their families.
We have created our Bulk Foods department to further help customers stretch their food dollars.
Many of these ingredients are used in our own CountryFresh bakery products. Our fully equipped in-store kitchen replaces Judy’s home kitchen; producing fresh pies, breads, cakes, cookies, donuts and more. You’ll know you’re in the right spot from the aroma as you walk through the door.
Well-seasoned firewood is available – call for details.
Beautiful hand-crafted fruit baskets and gift baskets are available throughout the year – but Thanksgiving through Christmas finds all the employees of Hillside busy artistically placing our premium apples, other fruits and goodies in decorative baskets for families and corporate customers.
Winter brings a slower pace until the snow melts. Much time is spent pruning the fruit trees and berry bushes.
Spring-time is welcomed to Hillside with lush hanging baskets, and other planting material to beautify the yards of our customers. Cheerful smiles, warm greetings and helpful service, a listening ear (even a hug or prayer) go right along with the good quality, freshness and “your money’s worth”! We love our customers and it shows!
Judy, Allen’s wife, was the spark-plug and the public face of Hillside’s farm market for 33 years. Jesus Christ was her Lord and Savior! She often prayed with customers who needed encouragement or direction along life’s way. Judy entered the Presence of Jesus on January 3rd, 2008. Judy and Allen were married and were soul-mates for 47 + years. In the Spring 2008, Scott (Allen & Judy’s youngest son) returned to the farm to manage the farm market and work alongside Allen in farming activities. Scott and his wife Dawne, will fill ‘the shoes’ of the next generation with purpose and passion.
In closing the Hillside story, I, Allen, leave you with this quote from Judy – spoken to those who visited her during the last two weeks of her life – “We don’t say goodbye, we say see you later”. If you give your life (heart) to Jesus there are no “goodbye’s” just “see you laters!”.
Loving Jesus first, to serve you better! The Bowmans