Fruit of Their Labor
Last updated: January 17 2004
From the June 18, 2003 issue of York Dispatch

By Barb Krebs

Shaw Orchards is in the national spotlight this month. This third-generation family-owned business is featured in the July edition of Country Living magazine, now on newsstands.

It is all about the fun of family cherry picking, and the photos present a colorful, peaceful, even relaxing summer afternoon in the orchard. The table, set for a summer picnic in the orchard is a patriotic display of red, white and blue backed by trees covered with deep green leaves and contrasting bright red cherries ready for the picking.

The feature includes 10 receipes for cherries from cherry brownie backed Alaska, cherry vinaigrette an cherry walnut turnovers to chocolate dipped cherries with pistachios and always-popular cherry pie.

Of course, the photos were taken last summer when the tree branches were bent low to the ground with cherries ripe for the picking -- but cherry season is once again just around the corner, and it is not too early to start planning for a pick-your-own afternoon in the orchard, said Mary Sue Shaw.

"The whole idea is to have a picnic in the orchard. A neat idea all the way from grilled quail with golden cherry barbecue sauce to fresh cherry vanilla ice cream," Shaw said.

A whole crew: She said freelance photographer Helen Norman of Maryland, producer Nicole Esposito Polly and food editor Cheryl Slocum from New York, three models and several assistants spent three days in the orchards.

Two of the models, the two little blond-haired girls in blue dresses who appear in the magazine walking away from the camera carrying a bucket of cherries, are sisters, 6-year-old Elena Floto and 3-year-old Therese Floto, who have since moved to Greece, Norman said.

"It was interesting to watch," Shaw said, "Although I was very busy at the time, any chance I got we slipped down to watch them."

She said it was Norman who discovered the orchard and suggested it to the editors of Country Living as a great location to photograph cherry trees.

Norman said she has been working as a freelance photographer for 20 years. Although her assignments may take her to various locations in the United States and around the world, her heart and her roots are at home with her family in White Hall, Md.

"I grew up in central Maryland and aI wanted to raise my family here. I try to do as much as I can down here. I am always looking for locations in southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland," Norman said.

Norman also arranged for a similar Country Living photo shoot of family apple picking at Maple Lawn Farms in New Park that was featured in the magazine last fall. Because Shaw Orchards is setup to allow people to pick their own cherries, it was a natural for the July edition, and everyone had a great time, Norman said.

"The people in this area are so friendly and the hospitatlity we received from the Shaw's was just incredible. They could not have been any nicer," she said.

Early arrangements, iffy weather: Shaw said she received a call from the magazsine a year in advance wanting to know when the cherries would be at their peak. The answer -- around mid-June, but there were some anxious moments because the weather does not always cooperate.

They checked the blossoms several times in May to make sure things were going as expected, she said. Miss it by a week and the cherries could all be gone by the time th eteam arrived in the final week of June.

"They thought they were going to be photographing the sweet cherries but they are not as photogenic. They are dark and wouldn't show well on the trees so we ended up going back to the tart cherries because they're so vivid. So some of the recipes use tart cherries and dsome of them use sweet," Shaw said.

Once the photo shoot began the weather still had a say in its progress.

"It started raining at the end of day two. They had to pack things up rather hurriedly," Shaw said. "They used their Polariod pictures to put everything back exactly the way it was, and the children's' clothes had to be laundered."

Shaw said the wather was "blistering hot," and she kept the crew comfortable with plenty of icy cold drinks. When it came time to photograph the ice cream, that was done very quickly, she said.

National attention: Although the orchards were not mentioned except in a line saying "photographed on location as Shaw ORchards in Stewartstown, Pa.," Shaw said she has gotten calls from people who have seen the magazine layout and want to know more about th echerry crop. One call came from a mother in Georgia who wanted to include a stop at the orchard as part of her family vacation. Unfortunately the trip is planned for the middle of June and the cherries will not be ready until the end of June, Shaw said so she suggested an alternate plan:

Come and pick strawberries. We have a wagon ride out into the fields and there is a tent and a picnic table out there if the children choose not to pick berries."

Shaw said the cherry crop, expected in the last week of June, will be only about 50 percent of usual, probably due to a late frost or spring cold snap or a late frost, she said.

People come from Philadelphia and Washington and points south to pick cherries, Shaw said. And for those who cannot get tot the orchards, the cherries can now come to them via the Internet.

"Ordinarily we don't sell anything through the Web site, but we put together a cherry sampler box for people to buy. There's cherry butter, cherry p reserves, dried cherries and cherry muffin mix in our sampler box," she said.

For those who miss out on cherries or want something different but still tasty and ehalthy, blueberries will be ready soon, and Shaw said she expects a bumber crop this year. She has invited the COuntry Living crew to return for blueberries or anything else available at Shaw Orchards.

"They are welcome back anytime. We would be pleased to have them," she said.

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