Country charm greets visitors to orchard

Denise Wright

The smell of apple butter overtakes the air of Beckwith Orchard gift shop. The wooden chairs sitting on the front porch and the quarter-mania candy in the corner screams Cracker Barrel restaurant (well, vice versa since Beckwith was established in 1878), but this place has a few things Cracker Barrel doesn’t.

Ravenna resident Mike Jones said he visits the orchard about four times a year for one reason: free apple samples. Jones added that he also enjoys the scenery that surrounds the place.

“It’s really nice because you can always take romantic walks through the orchard,” he said.

Streetsboro resident Kathy Kunze said she comes to Beckwith because of its overall atmosphere.

“I love the country feel and the charm of the knickknacks in the gift shop,” she said. “I’ve lived in the area most of my life, and I keep coming back to visit.”

Employee Jane “Mrs. Appleseed” Hensley said the activities the orchard hosts help make the location a landmark, attracting a local crowd of returning customers. These events include bluegrass bands and other entertainment, a $2 corn maze for ages three and older and tours for elementary schools and other organizations.

Employee Charlie Beckwith said the 90-minute tours include a guided walk of the Kent Community Gardens and the orchards, which feature about 1,600 trees and at least 25 varieties of apples. In addition, tour takers get a “behind-the-scenes” look at the storage facilities as well as a step-by-step demonstration of how the apples are cleaned and sorted. Each group also receives free cider and apples to enjoy after the tour.

But the truly great thing about Beckwith Orchards is that anyone who walks in will receive the same treatment, whether it’s getting to see the “quality control guy” that sits at the end of the washing machine’s conveyor belt or taking that delicious bite from a complimentary Honey Crisp apple.

“It’s really the best place to come to find hospitality, a lot of history – and, of course, the pies,” Hensley said. “There’s no other place like it around here.”

Contact features reporter Denise Wright at [email protected].