Lohr's Orchard has new home

October 11, 1992|By Frank Lynch | Frank Lynch,Staff Writer

Lohr's Orchard is not out of business, and its owner wants t set the record straight.

"We've simply relocated," Andrew Lohr Jr. said as he inspected cider mill machinery in a renovated dairy barn on his 100-acre TTC orchard in Churchville. "When my brother George and I dissolved our partnership last spring, obviously many people thought we were closing the orchard for good. Our sales fell off approximately 35 percent.

"George decided to leave the operation, but this is what I like to do best. So here I am."

He knows that many customers felt abandoned when he and his brother announced that the 85-acre Joppa apple and peach orchard would be sold to a developer.

The decision to sell was prompted by the death in 1988 of their father, Andrew Lohr Sr. He owned the farm, although his sons had operated the business since the 1970s.

"It wasn't easy leaving Joppa," said Mr. Lohr, "and it wasn't by choice. It was out of necessity. My brother and I had to do something to pay off about $370,000 in inheritance tax."

What has bothered Mr. Lohr most since the sale was made public in May is that some Joppa residents suggested it was another example of farmers selling off valuable property just to get rich.

"I wonder what they [area residents] would have done if they were faced with a similar financial situation," he said.

"Our family operated that farm for 60 years, long before the area was developed in the 1960s," he said, recalling how his father began as a truck farmer, branched off into poultry and then opened the orchard in the late 1940s.

"We always felt part of the community. Our farm was always open to the children in the area," Mr. Lohr said.

Settlement has not been consummated on the property which, once developed, will have 378 individual homes, town houses and condominiums. Until settlement, Mr. Lohr and his brother have to pay interest on the $370,000 inheritance tax. "Believe me," he said, "no one is going to get rich off this."

What is left of the estate will be divided among Andrew, George and a sister, Carolyn, who lives out of state.

In order to remain in business and also settle some adjusted interest payments, Mr. Lohr took out a loan against the Churchville property. "I took $100,000 extra just to fix up this barn to house our operation," he said.

The barn, which measures 70 feet by 145 feet, contains the cider mill, a cold storage room, a farm produce sales room and an area to stock plastic jugs.

The "new" Lohr's Orchard, located on Snake Lane, about a half-mile east of Route 22, is expected to be fully operational by the end of the month. Other services offered by Mr. Lohr and his wife, Zandra, include wagon rides through the farm on weekends and weekday orchard tours for preschool and kindergarten children.

It won't be long before Lohr's fruit and cider will once again be available at roadside stands and other markets throughout the county.

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