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During a recent trip to Arbor Day Farm, we took a tour of an attraction that has risen from the ashes to provide visitors with a great experience.
This is an exciting time for everyone at Arbor Day Farm, as this year they are marking the 150th anniversary of the Arbor Day holiday, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Arbor Day Foundation. Austin Mackrill is the Vice President at Arbor Day Farm, and he’s excited about welcoming lots of visitors this spring and summer to the Apple House Market. You see, a fire nearly destroyed the building about 18 months ago. “We were getting ready for our biggest event of the year, Apple Jack Days in the fall, and we had the Apple House Market fully packed with retail goods and apples,” Mackrill said. “We had an electrical fire in our restaurant. The Nebraska City Fire Department and local volunteers saved the historic part of the structure from completely burning down.” Now, the Apple House Market has been rebuilt.
“We feel like this is the place where the Arbor Day Foundation mission comes to life,” Mackrill said. “We really try to create an experience for the guest, that is unique to us, and that is unique to our story. We have Porter’s BBQ, and that is an ode to the family we purchased the property from. It offers some award-winning barbeque in our minds! We also have our apple viewing room. You can go in our sorting room, and you can see where we sort apples in the fall. You can also see where we press our cider in the fall. In addition to that, we have many local goods, jellies, jams, honey, and in the fall we have plenty of apples grown right here on the property.”
The gift shop area is well done, and features a number of Nebraska-produced items. “Our goal is to feature local products,” Mackrill said. The Apple House Market also features a wood cookie wall. “This is really a fun project,” Mackrill said. “We wanted to make sure that our history and roots were showcased in this new rebuild. We thought, what better way to do that then by using products from our property. We are all about trees at the Arbor Day Foundation, and our mission is to inspire people to plant and celebrate trees. We gathered up a bunch of downed logs. We said, how many species can we find? Our team found 22 different species of wood, all from our property here, and we decided to showcase it with this wood cookie wall.”
Arbor Day Farm will be featuring some fun events this year. “We are looking forward to the Radler Bike Festival,” Mackrill said. “That’s coming up next month. We also have our summer music series that will be held in our historic barns. Of course, our highlight of the farm is the fall harvest festival. That starts with Apple Jack weekend, which is a couple of weekends long, and it carries from September into October. Our goal really is that guests come here, they get outside, and they are able to experience something unique.”
The next time you are thinking about a trip to Nebraska City, consider a stop for shopping and lunch at the Apple House Market, and see how the redesigned and rebuilt structure is serving customers again.