There is something to be said about a business where the owners and customers know each other on a first-name basis. When you walk into Oswego’s Ontario Orchards, there is a good possibility you’ll find co-owner Kathy Ouellette stocking the shelves and produce.
“It’s never boring,” Ouellette said.
Ontario Orchards is more than just a produce shop, offering a variety of products, which includes homemade baked goods, festive decorations and local treasures. Ontario Orchards offers local maple syrups, spices and even ingredients to make and bottle your own wine and beer. There is something for everyone, whether it’s a bottle of local apple cider to quench your thirst, or a colorful seasonal wreath to hang on your front door.
“They carry a lot of local specialty items that you can’t find at a grocery store chain,” Oswego State student Drew Pascuzzi said.
Pascuzzi and his family have been frequent customers to Ontario Orchards for many years. Pascuzzi is not alone, as other customers note the “country market atmosphere” and the “fresh produce.”
It’s hard to believe that over 46 years ago Ontario Orchards began in a barn where the shop stands today by two 18-year-olds. Dennis and June Ouellette opened their doors and built Ontario Orchards from a little family produce stop into a large market with a variety of items that employs over 50 workers.
Kathy Ouellette said that customers come and go from the Oswego area.
“A lot of people move out of the area because of no jobs and still want the taste of the orchards,” Oullette said.
To remedy this, they operate the website tasteofcny.com. The site offers different specialty products found at the shop and throughout the local area to which many people may not have access because of where they live. Customers can order a bottle of sauce from Dinosaur BBQ or the Syracuse-based Hofmann Hot Dogs.
Ouellette finds it very important to support local goods and farmers.
“Ontario Orchards supports local farmers because we want to know where the produce is coming from,” Ouellette said.
Much of the produce is grown right down the road at the Ontario Orchards Farm in Sterling.
The farm also serves as the venue for the 11th annual Fall Jamboree on Saturday and Sunday Sept. 22 and 23, which offers fun for all ages with its variety of games and activities. Ouellette describes the Fall Jamboree as a “family event.” Kids can enjoy a cornucopia of fun and exciting activities such as magic shows and the live animal farms. Other attractions include hay wagon rides, face painting and of course U-Pick apples and pumpkins.
Visitors to the Fall Jamboree will find themselves listening to the area’s local musicians while finding their way through the corn maze and tasting different wines from around the area, with access to demonstrations on how you can make your own wine.
The orchard offers 28 varieties of apples. Customers can simply take a bag and pick the perfect ripe produce. The U-Pick starts the weekend of Sept. 15 and 16 at 9 a.m. and will continue well into the fall and harvest season.
The staff of Ontario Orchards and the Ontario Orchards Farm will be hard at work in the coming weeks making sure everything is ready for a successful harvest season and that every customer is satisfied.
“This is where our heart is,” Kathy Ouellette said.