From August through November, apple season is in full swing at HighPoint Orchard & Winery near Greensburg. Visitors pick from dozens of apple varieties, which along with peaches and Asian pears are grown on Randy and Karen Cyman’s 18-acre fruit farm.
Fall brings hundreds of school kids to the orchard to learn all about apples and sample cider made using an antique press. HighPoint also draws out-of-towners, many of whom arrive on tour buses to soak up the country ambience and the historic location, Pleak’s Hill, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008. In fact, the Cymans live in an 1858 house built by J.E. Pleak. Randy Cyman was drawn to the house at first sight and liked the idea of preserving a piece of history.
“I get satisfaction out of improving something,” he says. “We pride ourselves on the beauty of the grounds and historic nature of the house.”
The couple established HighPoint Orchard in 2005 and opened the following spring. Its name comes from the property’s status as the highest point in northwest Decatur County. The elevation protects the fruit from damaging spring frosts, and the nearby upland reservoir supplies plenty of moisture.
Given the favorable growing conditions, Randy decided to indulge his passion for winemaking by carving out an acre to plant multiple varieties of grapes. At a prestigious winery in France, he learned about operating a vineyard. He plans to follow the French model by developing a small boutique winery, though it won’t be fully operational for a few years. Still, the Cymans see it as another piece of the first-class agritourism experience they want to provide for visitors.
Farm to Table
A key ingredient in the couple’s success from the outset has been Karen Cyman’s culinary prowess. She makes all of the food from scratch for their Orchard Café and Ole Mill Barn, except for the pies, which are made by another chef and baked on site. Customers rave about her signature chicken salad sandwiches, but her homemade doughnuts draw early visitors. In season, she makes an apple crisp doughnut mix, with the finished products iced or topped with cinnamon and brown sugar. “We also do a pumpkin and a vanilla with different toppings,” she says. Salads, wraps and other items are served in the cafe, which opens every June along with an adjacent gift shop. Just a few days after opening the cafe this summer, Karen says, people were already asking for her doughnuts.
In 2009, the Cymans renovated the two-story barn, built in 1854, and began year-round food service that accommodates more than 100 customers at a time. Karen says guests love the “cozy lodge feel” inside and the expansive views from the spacious outdoor deck.
“With any small business, you’re determining what do people really need,” she says. “It has turned into a year-round business, which is good because the bills come around every month.”
The Mill Barn is popular with area residents who want a special place to celebrate milestones such as weddings, bridal and baby showers, class reunions and retirement parties.
“We live in a rural area with a lot of fast food,” Karen says. “One of the needs for our community was to have a charming place to hold different events. We fill that niche.”
Randy has a management position at the nearby Honda automotive plant, but still finds time to care for the orchard grounds and trees. His wife handles menu planning, food preparation, supplies and customer relations with visitors to the farm, the cafe and those renting out the property for weddings and other occasions. After a nonstop week of hosting multiple events, she paused to reflect on the agricultural adventure she and her husband embarked on just a few years ago.
“This has been such a journey for us,” she says. “It has encouraged and surprised us. We keep putting our best foot forward and opportunities develop.”
If You Go…
The high point at HighPoint is the orchard’s annual Apple Fest, which takes place the second weekend in October. It’s a fun, family event featuring activities such as a pumpkin roll, apple pie bake-off, wagon rides and those famous fresh doughnuts. Learn more about the festival, or plan your visit the farm, at www.highpointorchard.com or by calling (812) 663-4534.