Lyle Ditmars, along with two of his sons, his daughter-in-law, and a crew of hard-working, dedicated employees run Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard, a quaint fruit orchard complete with a cidery, restaurant and sweet shop. Lyle began planting his orchard in fall of 1994, after purchasing the land the previous year. Today he has full grown apple trees, teaming with vibrant fruit, planted in neat rows which are each labeled with the variety of apple that occupies the row. Lyle has many apple varieties growing in his orchard, some we commonly see in commerce, like Red and Yellow Delicious. However, Lyle’s apples are grown right here, in southwest Iowa soil. They are fresh and have not been stored in a warehouse for months. You can see the vibrance in the apples, as they weigh down the loaded branches. You can taste the freshness. In addition to some of the common varieties, he has some tasty lesser-known varieties too, like Bella and Liberty.
Ditmars Orchard is known for their apples, but before the apples are ripe for the season, you can find other delicious fruits there too. From late May through early July, you can pick your own strawberries, which are sold by the pound. Pie cherries are sold by the pound, too, and are usually ready to pick right around mid-June. And, assuming we avoid a late spring frost that compromises the blossoms, apricots and peaches can be purchased in-store from late July through August. And of course, there is a pumpkin patch and pumpkins for sale in the fall.
The apples are not the only eye-catching crop that grows at Ditmars Orchard. Rows of vivid zinnias, popular with the people and pollinators, are bursting with vibrant color and can be purchased by the stem, or the bouquet. Zinnias begin to show color in July and bloom until we get a hard frost, sometime in fall.
In addition to being an orchard, Ditmars is a gathering place for fun family activities. While children can run around outside enjoying the fresh air and playground, adults can spend time in the tasting room, or in the outside seating area, sampling local Iowa beer, wine or hard cider. Ditmars Orchard has created several different blends of wine, some of which highlight apples grown in their orchard. Wine is available by the glass or bottle, purchased in their Orchard Store. Hard cider can be sampled by purchasing a flight, containing six flavors, by the glass or even the growler.