Harry and Jackie Hoch and family moved back to their orchard south of Nodine in the summer of 1997 and have been aggressively replanting the old orchard. Hoch orchard has been in the Hoch family since the early 1950’s. Harry Hoch received an Associate degree in Horticulture in 1985 and managed Hoch orchard through 1989. In 1989 Jackie moved to the Twin Cities to complete an internship in Medical Technology. In 1990 Harry and the children joined Jackie in the Metro area. Harry then started working as a Research Plot Coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s Horticultural Research Center. While working for the University Harry received a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Pest Management and a Master’s degree in Technical Communications and Sustainable Agriculture. Later in 1990 Jackie completed her internship and Bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology and continued to work at Hennepin County Medical Center until 1997 when they moved back to the farm. In 2004, Jackie completed a Masters Degree in Business.
Jackie has since given up a career in Medical Technology to co-manage Hoch Orchard and Gardens with Harry. Daughters, Angi and Missy, helped on the farm and with sales at the farmer’s markets while growing up. Both are on their own now, but they help when they come home.
In 2012, Missy graduated from college and moved back to the orchard to start paying off her loans. Missy graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a degree in studio art. Her plans are to work a season on the orchard while she takes some time to decide what she wants to do with her life. She is currently also working part time at a tattoo shop called Twisted Skull Studios in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Missy is helping with some design for signs and displays this year. Being a people person like her parents, one of her favorite aspects of the orchard is working and living with a wide variety of people.
Harry’s mother, Jackie Senior, invested a good portion of her life to Hoch Orchard. She spent many summer months on the farm helping coordinate the busy family and supervising the maintenance of her many flower gardens. Grandma doesn’t pick apples anymore but she sure would if she could. Grandma passed away on January 25, 2013.
Jack and Mary Ann Redfern work with us to produce Grampa Jack’s Honey. While they claim to be retired, they are farmers at heart and work hard taking care of their bees and helping out on the farm. Mary Ann also helps with in-store demos and takes care of farmer’s market sales in LaCrosse. Jack helps out with local deliveries and picks up a lot of supplies for us. They are big part of our farm family.
We have to include Dan VonArx, who also claims to be retired after working many years on the railroad. Dan grew up on a farm outside Hokah Minnesota. He knows how to drive a tractor on our steep hillsides and he can fix just about anything. We wouldn’t get any work done around here if he didn’t come up two days a week to fix everything we break during the other five days. Dan is an important part of our farm.
The newest member of our farm family is Nick Mabe. Nick completed an internship on our farm in 2011 and became lead worker in the fall to help organize harvest. In 2012 he became a full time year-round employee. Nick will be managing the animal production on our farm and will help out where ever else he is needed. He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Political Science. Initially, Nick was interested in global environmental issues, but quickly realized that he could achieve more at a local level. He was lead into agriculture and became excited about the practical side of farming. The diversified business in fruit production and the ways that Harry and Jackie fairly treat the land while still maintaining a thriving business is why Nick decided to become a part of Hoch Orchards and Gardens. Nick decided to stay another year at the orchard to even further expand his knowledge and work outside in ‘one of the most beautiful areas of the country.’
Click here to check out the rest of our current crew!