Growing a Healthy Tradition
Celebrating 140 Years
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David and Heather Loomis are honored to be the fifth generation to work the family farm. David grew up on the farm and after high school attended Susquehanna University. He earned his Masters at Bucknell University and is currently employed as a school psychologist. Heather received her Bachelor of Arts from Susquehanna University and worked with the Department of Music at Susquehanna University. In 2005, they made the move to Farmers Valley and started managing the farm business in 2006. In addition to maintaining an off the farm job within the public school school system, David enjoys working on the farm. Heather does the daily work around the farm including pruning the orchards, picking and sorting fruit, operating the store room, and managing the care for their flock of sheep. They have dedicated themselves to providing naturally grown tree fruit and to conserving Romeldale CVM sheep.
Bohlayer’s Orchards was established in 1876 when Fred Bohlayer and his wife Laura purchased the land located in Farmers Valley, Troy, PA. Fred believed in hard work, but prided the success of his operation in that he “farmed with his brains”. Fred’s farm was considered by contemporaries as a paying property, devoted largely to the production of fine fruit. During his tenure, Fred acquired additional property expanding his orchards to included other area farms and an orange grove in Sanford, Florida. Fred and Laura raised eight children of which two became orchardists.
J. Ernest and his wife Loretta Bohlayer were the second generation to manage the farm. In addition to the orchard, Ernest and Loretta continued the self-sustaining farm with a dairy, a flock of sheep (approximately 100), a substantial poultry farm, pigs, and bee colonies (which were kept by his son, John). Loretta continued to be an integral part of the orchard especially as the farm passed to their son John. Apart from childrearing and orchard work, Loretta maintained numerous garden plots which later were maintained by Florence.
As the third generation, John and Florence Bohlayer brought the farm’s focus to fruit. John was considered an innovator and master craftsman who erected the current fruit storage and sales room complete with functioning cold storage. This allowed fruit to be stored and sold directly from the farm as opposed to barreling and shipping the fruit. Florence played a significant role in the operation picking, grading, and packing fruit as well as operating the store room.
To continue the family tradition, John and Florence’s nephew, David Loomis, Sr. and wife Ellie became the 4th generation of Bohlayer’s Orchards. Dave and Ellie relocated from Williamsport where Dave had acted as chairperson and teaching professor within the Psychology Department at Lycoming College. In 1976, Dave and Ellie observed the orchard’s 100th anniversary of ownership by operating a farm comprised of 30 acres of apples, 3 acres of pears, 3 acres of peaches and acreage to support a flock of 50 sheep.
Many of our customers have been visiting the farm for generations. Each autumn we look forward to seeing those familiar faces as well as welcoming new customers with whom we share the experience of family heritage and agriculture.