Fresh Discoveries at Millstone Creek Orchards

Tucked into Ramseur, N.C., one family farm has 19 years of memories rooted in its soil.

Millstone Creek Orchards began in 2001, when Byrd Isom planted a few rows of apple trees and planned to sell the harvested fruit out of the bed of his truck. Three years later, he opened the farm up to the community, so guests could pick their own fruit, go for a hayride or picnic on the land.

Before his death in 2015, Isom asked his children to take over his beloved farm. His daughter Beverly Mooney now keeps up with the farm’s operations — everything from bookkeeping, to canning, to giving the farm hands their tasks each day.

Peaches, grapes and berries grow at Millstone Creek Orchards. “We don’t have a lot of anything, but we have a little of a lot of things,” says Beverly Mooney.

“We’re stepping back in time here,” she said, of the values, activities and even the old-time playset that sits on the grounds. “What’s neat about here is you see the phones, but primarily you see people taking pictures with their phones – and that’s cool.”

The 80-acre property is home to fishing ponds, an old-fashioned doughnut and ice cream shop, and picnic tables for guests to bring meals from home to share together, all among berry bushes and peach trees.

While a lot of programs and events are geared toward younger children and families, there is truly something for everyone.

Trunks of peach trees are painted white to prevent cracking and splitting of new bark and keep out disease, insects and fungus.

Marissa Devine first visited the farm when her family moved to North Carolina 13 years ago, when she was a teenager. Living on Long Island, she was used to apple-picking in the fall with her family, so they instantly felt at home at Millstone Creek Orchards.

“As a family, we would pick the fruit, and then we’d get to come home and bake and enjoy it together as a family,” she said. “It’s just a lot of precious memories that you can create all together.”

After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, Devine now works with Mooney at Millstone Creek Orchards, handling the farm’s marketing and social media.

Last year, about 27,000 people visited the farm. “If you come September or October, which is our peak season, on a Saturday or Sunday, we will have 500 to 700 guests a day visit,” says Beverly Mooney.

“The family-friendly environment Beverly and Nick have created make this a place where anyone can come and feel like they are a part of the orchards, and like this is a space where they can create these family memories,” Devine said.

Unlike some farms, which specialize in one or two types of fruits or vegetables, Millstone Creek Orchards has something tasty growing throughout the year — berries, peaches, pecans, apples and pumpkins.

“We don’t have a lot of anything, but we have a little of a lot of things,” Mooney said.

Millstone Creek Orchard owner Nick Mooney walks among his 1.5 acres of blackberry bushes.

March and April start the season with a lot of planting and working the land. That work pays off come June and July, when the fruit is ready for harvest.

But, even before the fruit blooms, the orchard begins hosting events like a weekly farmers market and other events that revolve around the produce ready to harvest at that time.

From June through the end of the year, Millstone Creek Orchards hosts an event just about every weekend, starting with the Very Berry Celebration and ending the season with the Christmas Hayride, where kids get to have story time with Santa, decorate cookies and even watch Christmas movies on the arm.

Peaches, apples, pecans and berries grow at the orchard, which has fruit and activities from spring until fall.

Between the programs, festivals and pick-your-own produce, the farm has become quite popular. Last year, 5,000 guests booked tours on the farm and about 27,000 people visited overall.

“It is ridiculously humbling,” Mooney said. “If you come September or October, which is our peak season, on a Saturday or Sunday, we will have 500 to 700 guests a day visit.”

Mooney and Devine agree that their favorite activity is the Fruity Picking Storytime for kids age 3 to 7. This adult-chaperoned event is held weekly in the warmer months and teaches children where their favorite foods come from. Each storytime includes a hayride and goodies to take home.

“The fact that the little kids can pick it and then bring it home to enjoy is really special,” Devine said. “There’s such a difference between picking fresh blueberries or a fresh peach off the tree instead of getting it at the grocery store. The taste is unimaginable.”

In the 10 years she’s been hosting the event, Mooney says she has gotten to know many of the children who visit.

“I get to see these kids grow up a little bit when they’re young,” she said.

Cakes, canned goods, fudge and ice cream are available at Granny’s Kitchen at Millstone Creek Orchard.

While there are good and bad years on the farm, Mooney says she wouldn’t do anything else.

“Farming is the most frustrating and rewarding thing you will ever do,” she said. “We have freezes and hails and tornadoes and hurricanes and too much rain and not enough rain, too hot a summer and too cold a spring. You have to be willing and able to adapt to what you’re facing.

“The beauty of this is, every year I get a brand new clean slate and we start all over again. We’re blessed to get that opportunity.”

Learn more about Millstone Creek Orchards at

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