Palisade U-Pick orchard the perfect fit for Colorado woman
September 16, 2016
For Tricia Sproles, who runs Papa Brown's U-Pick Orchard in Palisade with her husband Chris Brown, it's not about the peach.
"It's about the experience," she said.
That's why last year, Sproles decided to take the family's traveling produce stand and settle down as an open-to-the-public, pick-your-own orchard. They still sell sweet corn from Olathe, Colo., vegetables Sproles grows and pre-picked peaches in a wooden shack, much like they used to before. But now, with roots firmly planted on the West Slope, Sproles said they're a little closer to God.
"I just saw it," she said. "He just put it in our hearts to open up for U-Pick."
Though Sproles' orchard, in the shadow of Mount Garfield, has only been in Palisade, Colo., for five years, farming is in her blood. Her family started to farm 103 years ago.
Though she's done other work in larger cities, like Fort Collins, she likes to say every job drove her into the dirt — in a good way.
Now, she can't imagine giving up the farm life for any other. The orchard is her chance to give back. It's where she can give produce to families who need a little help or give joy to help turn someone's day around, she said.
She loves to watch kids laugh when the first peach they grip onto springs free from a branch.
When little ones, like Libby Rowland, 5, and Harper Rowland, 3, pluck corn cobs from crates, carefully as if the plants are still attached to stalks, it makes Sproles' daily trips to Olathe for fresh produce worth it.
Some of Sproles' customers even become friends, and many leave with hugs to accompany overflowing boxes of fruit.
For Denver's Kelsey Medeiros, a trip to Papa Brown's U-Pick Orchard brought the chance to fulfill a long-term dream. When Medeiros and her boyfriend stopped in Palisade one weekend in August, she sprinted into the shack at the orchard and asked Sproles for a box, and said picking fruit in a real orchard had been on her bucket list her whole life.
As a kid, Medeiros and her family would take road trips, and she always watched out the window as leafy, colorful orchards zoomed by. She told herself she'd be back one day.
Brandon Kirklin, her boyfriend, lifted her up so she could get the perfect peach, nestled high in one of the trees. When he sat her back down, she laughed and said the peach-picking trip was well worth the wait.
As Medeiros and Kirklin went out into the orchard, Sproles watched from the edge of the shack, smiling. She pointed, and said stories like Medeiros' are what a U-Pick orchard is all about.
"Everybody's got a smile," she said "If you're not enjoying yourself, you're not doing it right." ❖
To learn more about Papa Brown’s Orchard, call Tricia Sproles at (970) 420-6159.