Walter E. Swindeman, Sr. planted his first apple
trees in the fall of 1935. Walter, being a wholesale grocery
salesman, used to notice the poor quality apples in the surrounding
area stores. At that thought, he told his wife, Lucile, "When I
retire, I'm going to raise good apples as a hobby, then go back and
call on my old customers and supply them with quality apples". And
this is what gave Walter the incentive to begin Applewood Orchards.
In 1940, Walter retired and became a full-time apple
farmer. Of course, his volume was limited but he did have enough to
supply some of his old buddies. Before long, he started to handle
fruit for a few other growers so he could supply all of his old
grocery customers as well as a local retail trade.
His son, Bernie, growing up on the farm was always
helping his dad, as his dad had always paid him for the work he
performed. By the time Bernie was a young teenager he was buying
land and setting out orchards of his own. When he was sixteen, he
was delivering apples in a one-ton truck to the Toledo customers.
In 1955, Walter and Lucile said it was time for them
to really retire. They moved to Ft. Lauderdale , Florida . At that
time, Bernie married Beverly Murphy and they took full control of
the family customers. They continued to expand the little farm
business. In 1958, they built one of the first Controlled Atmosphere
( C.A. ) rooms in the United States . As the years went on, they
kept building more C.A. storage's and taking on outside growers so
they could keep up with the demand. By now, the family business had
expanded to supplying several major chain stores, and Applewood
Orchards incorporated in 1963.
In 1969, Bernie once again was among the first to
install an apple waxer. This only came after he built a new packing
plant to house the new packing line. In the mid-1970's, Bernie and
Beverly 's sons, Steve, Scott and Jim, got involved in running the
family business. They too, grew up in the orchards and packing plant
helping their folks.
Today, the three sons run the business along with
the forth generation, Scott's son Michael and Jim's son Brandt. They now
have several outside growers bringing their fruit to be stored,
packed, and marketed. Applewood also grows over 450 acres of apples
of its own with plans to continue expanding its acreage. Applewood
now has 16 C.A. rooms in Deerfield, plus several grower owned and
rented rooms. Applewood is now shipping to numerous areas east of
the Rocky Mountains and exporting to several countries. Applewood's
main goal is quality, service, and consistency.