Terry and Sharon Gram, current owners of Arrowhead Orchard
Three generations of Arrowhead Orchard families.
Our history, our stewardship, our love of God and land.
The second owners of the orchard were Fred and Truus Monhemius. They came to the USA from Holland (The Netherlands). Fred had graduated in 1949 from horticultural school. As a young married couple, they left post World War II depression in Holland with two suitcases and a sewing machine. They arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on April 10, 1951, six weeks after being married. They made contact with relatives living in Wooster, Ohio who had come to America in 1911 before World War I. Fred’s first job was working for Cope Fruit Farm in Paris. Six months later, Fred was offered a job at Arrowhead Orchard for $150 a month with a small trailer to live in. They could buy the trailer with monthly payments to Raymond and Anna. In 1956, the Monhemius family left to manage an orchard in Batavia, Ohio. Raymond, thinking of future retirement, offered to build a home on the orchard for them if they would return and manage the business. Fred and Truus returned in the spring of 1958 and raised four children in Paris; Erwin, Elaine, Diana and Randal. They bought the orchard from Raymond and Anna in 1964, two years before Raymond died from a bad heart at the age of 67.
In the 1960’s a used “bagging table” was acquired to provide 10lb., 5lb. and eventually 3lb. plastic bags to the local county grocery stores. Used “state of the art” washing and grading equipment were installed in the Applehouse in 1970. Not until 1982 was a fork lift and pallet jack acquired. Prior to then, 13,ooo bushels of apple crates and boxes were lifted by hand. Fred is a tall man and was able to stack crates 12 feet high in the cold storage rooms. A 900 square foot sales room was added to the barn and cold storage areas in 1982, with tiled red brick flooring and a finished restroom facility.
History of Arrowhead Orchard, Paris, Ohio
The hillside that Arrowhead Orchard was planted on was bought by Raymond and Anna Gotter in 1932. The 40 plus acres on the east side of a hill was the perfect spot with protection from the westerly winds. The land sloped into the valley assuring the orchard never to have a total freeze. Colder temperatures would flow down the valley and away from the spring apple blossoms (air drainage) towards lower lands. The orchard never had a total loss of crop from frost because of this excellent air drainage. It took over a year for Raymond and his brothers to plant the trees by hand. A strong spring in the middle of the orchard provided a continual source of water for the farm. The orchard’s name came from the arrowheads found in the ground and around the spring when planting. Some of the earlier caretakers were the Delaware natives (American Indians).
Raymond Gotter, born in 1898 and growing up in Louisville, Ohio, hunted and trapped in the Paris area. He worked in Canton, Ohio in a coal mining office, married and had one daughter, Doris. The stock market crash of 1929 left the country in poor financial condition and by 1932, he knew his mining job was in jeopardy. He had read about orchards from books and information from the Ohio State University Extension offices. Knowing the lay of the land in Paris, he cashed-in an insurance policy, borrowed money from the bank and bought a 40 plus acre strip of land from local farmer, Harry Starkey. Area farmers laughed at Raymond, the land was steep and full of briar bushes. How could he grow anything on that land? Doris was 8 years old when they moved to the country and lived in a neighbor’s “old mansion turned into a chicken coup” building with no electricity. Raymond and Anna bought a tractor and plowed up all the land. The tractor was quickly repossessed but the land had been plowed. Raymond’s younger brother, Basil, had been adopted and raised by a rich aunt and uncle and attended Notre Dame University in Indiana for two years. He knew how to survey the land. Straight rows of trees were planted by several of the Gotter brothers who, by this time in the recession, had no jobs. Raymond was without work for three years. He built a basement and one story, tile home on the property, only later to be able to cover it with brick. In 1940, two more rooms, indoor bathroom and attic completed their home.
The water supply for the orchard was a strong spring and Raymond harnessed its resource by installing a 10,000 gallon water tank downhill from the spring. It had to be placed at exactly the right level so that water, being filled by gravity, stopped at the top of the tank. In 1934, the orchard barn was first disassembled from 12 miles away and then reconstructed in its current location. They had two horses, one cow and chickens. It took apple trees 4-5 years to come into good production. Peach trees grew a crop much sooner and were planted in the rows of apple trees. Hay was planted between the rows. Cherry trees, raspberry bushes, chickens, eggs, butchering pigs and a garden kept the family going. They took quarts of raspberries to Canton and almost begged establishments to buy them for 25 cents. Raymond then got a job in 1935 at Canton Drop Forge. In town, he sold his produce. There he worked until 1945. Dry-brush washers and chain grader equipment were installed in the barn by the end of the 1930’s. In the orchard, flat wagons were filled with bushel baskets of apples, later crates, and brought to the Applehouse (barn) by horses. In 1938, a Caterpillar track-tractor was bought to more easily move wagons and water-filled sprayers up and down the steep orchard hills. In 1948, the first cold storage room, 7,000-bushel capacity, was built. Refrigeration temperatures were kept at 32-33 degrees Fahrenheit, just till ice formed on the cement floor. The apples were watered-down daily to keep high humidity in the storage room. This kept apples crisp and prevented wrinkling. Apples were stored from August to June. At that time, 15 to 20 seasonal employees worked to pick the orchard fruit, bring in the crop and keep the trees winter pruned and in production. In 1959, another 6,000-bushel cold storage room was added.
The current owners bought the orchard in 1986 at auction. Glenmar Farm was a 60-acre beef and grain operation on the east side of the orchard owned by Glen and Marie Gram. In 1977, their youngest son, Terry, graduated from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. They formed a partnership with Terry and his wife, Sharon. Terry moved back home to work the family partnership and got a job with Stark Soil and Water Conservation District. Sharon hired into the clinical laboratory at Aultman Hospital in Canton. They raised two boys, Cory and Curtis and rented the original Gotter brick home for 10 years. When the family partnership bought the orchard, Terry, Sharon and family moved across the driveway into the home that had been built for Fred and Truus Monhemius by Raymond Gotter. When selling the orchard, Fred and Truus kept two acres and built a home on the northwest corner of the land so they could always look across the beautiful landscape of the orchard.
Marie Gram had worked on the apple grading line for the orchard since 1962. Glen and Terry had a background in farming but knew nothing about growing apples and peaches. With a little help from Fred, the families got through the first season. Most of the training came from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Station (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio and the Ohio Fruit Growers Association (farmers teaching farmers), together with Ohio State University Extention. They provided sessions in tree training, pruning, specialized sprays, cold storage, cider processing, deer and rodent control. They shared information on updated apple management and advancement in pome fruit. Gary Vogley, a neighboring orchardist and apple butter processor, became a good friend of Terry’s. Gary helped Terry learn about the modern developments in tree root stock and apple varieties. Terry attended certification classes every year for usage and management of orchard sprays. Soil and leaf analysis was conducted throughout the orchard to insure high standard vitamin/mineral content in the produce for storage quality and customer satisfaction. Innovative pest management skills were introduced into the orchard to provide healthier ways to control insect populations.
In 1996, the parking area was enlarged and a 30 by 40 foot cement docking area was added to the barn. The grading equipment was updated to allow usage of 18-bushel bins instead of one-bushel crates. Forklifts, pallet-jacks, tractors and a bin-dumper now did most of the heavy lifting. This was a major improvement in the management of the orchard. Terry would then be able to run his business longer with less stress on his body.
By the time the third owners bought the orchard, the trees were old and the apples small. Terry immediately started a replanting process that took 16 years. Even now, new varieties of apple, peach and nectarine trees are planted as older trees are removed. At first, Terry and Glen planted by hand with a hydraulic post-hole digger. Eighty trees could be planted in an eight-hour day. In 1992, they bought a tree planter and 1000 trees were then able to be planted in a six-hour day. Since 1986, the orchard has been completely replanted with 12 foot, semi-dwarf apple trees, removing the 20 to 30 foot standard trees. This allowed for a much safer working environment for employees climbing and picking tree fruit.
Today, Arrowhead is still owned by the GlenMar Farm partnership. Terry and Sharon Gram has operated the orchard as a wholesale and retail facility for 32 years. There are now over 7,000 apple trees and 300+ peach trees planted on approximately 40+ acres. These trees are replanted on a 20-year cycle. The Applehouse retail store is open August through April and carries over 30 apple varieties, several peach and nectarine varieties, sweet corn, pears, plums and pumpkins. We sell cider, apple dumplings and other baked goods, honey, apple butter, jams, jellies, & much, much more. Terry wholesales to seven area markets and local school systems in Stark County. Thirty-two seasonal employees work with us part-time throughout the year.
The year 2007 celebrated 75 years for the orchard; a bittersweet year. Glen had passed on, leaving a big hole in our family. But, as you can see from our story, life continues. Three different generations of families have lived, learned from, and loved the orchard. All of us and many in the community who have walked the orchard know the spirituality that surrounds it. Could be why you think our apples, peaches and nectarines taste so good.
Then in 2008, our son and daughter-in-law, Curtis & Rachael, brought a new diversity to Arrowhead Orchard. They started taking the orchard produce to Farmer’s Markets in the area. In 2009, they began organizing hayrides in the orchard on weekends in the fall and invited our friends, neighbors and customers to share and enjoy the beautiful land and apple harvest season. Rachael began organizing school tours. Curtis, being very creative and forever adventurous, made new and fun outdoor activities for families to play in; corn and grass mazes, Fort Delicious, obstacle course, small zip line and much more. He planted pumpkin patches for u-pick family fun. Every year since, the community has been invited back to enjoy family fun activities and apple picking in the orchard.
This year, we celebrated 85 years of community service to you, our friends and neighbors. Come be a part of what Terry, Sharon, Curtis and Rachael have planned for you. The circle of life continues at Arrowhead Orchard. Terry’s mother, Fred and Truus Monhemius, Terry and Sharon still live on the land. Stop by, take a deep breath of fresh air and smell the delicious scent of apple. Enjoy a fall walk in the orchard and see if you can find the natural spring. Listen to the wind through the trees and maybe you will hear and feel our 85 years of very special living.
We welcome you,
Terry and Sharon G Gram, V. Marie Gram, Curtis and Rachael Gram,
Arrowhead Orchard, 2017