Orchard House products a hit at farmers market
If you crave fresh gourmet donuts, Arcana Ferschke and Rose Walker-Young are here to satisfy that hunger.
Ferschke is a professional baker and pastry chef with experience in the Seattle and Portland areas. Walker-Young is a professional farmer. Together, the husband-and-husband team tend their orchard located on Libby Creek.
The fruits of their labor result in Orchard House donuts, featuring fresh fruit and locally crafted glazes, syrups and sauces, which can be found at the Methow Valley Farmers Market in Twisp on Saturday mornings.
Ferschke and Walker-Young moved to the Methow Valley in late 2019, following their long-time friend, Emily Plott, after years of visiting the valley. The couple fell in love with the landscape and the community. As they toured potential properties in the Methow Valley, real estate agent Emily Gibson asked them how they felt about community-oriented projects.
Ferschke and Walker-Young were excited by the prospect of working with neighbors to care for the land. The Libby Creek property checked all their boxes: garden spaces, mature fruit trees, commercial kitchen, and a communal garden on a shared corner of land.
The property was formerly owned by Joyce Campbell and Bernie Bigelow. Some readers may recall Campbell’s fruit pies, Bigelow’s guitars, and the community garden they nurtured on Libby Creek for decades.
When he is not tending fruit trees or creating gastronomic delights, Ferschke is a teacher at Little Star Montessori School in Winthrop. His Germanic surname, Ferschke, translates as “peach,” an apt name for an orchardist baker.
Ferschke spent several years farming in southern Oregon, and is new to tending trees. “This is the grand experiment,” he said, “it is an interesting learning curve — you try something and wait two years to see the results of your efforts.”
Ferschke affectionately touched the leaves of an aging apple tree, and noted that the hardest part of maintaining the orchard is deciding “who stays and who goes,” which older trees should be removed to make room for the growth of the younger trees.
Walker-Young is enjoying resurrecting projects on the property. The orchard has more than 80 trees with a variety of fruits: cherry, pear, peach, apricot and apple. Native currants grow in the gardens along with gooseberries and raspberries. Vegetables, herbs and flowers grow in neat rows, attracting scores of native pollinators. Walker-Young also manages the shared community garden.
Variety of products
The home came equipped with a commercial kitchen from the days when it was tofu factory. Its past is documented in the extensively annotated book, “History of Soybean Cultivation: 270 BCE to 2020.”
The Orchard House kitchen is now utilized to make savory sauces, jams and syrups, some of which can be tasted with the freshly made donuts offered at Methow Valley Farmers Market. “I like to incorporate fresh fruit in season,” Freschke said, such as filling a donut with currant jam or topping it with fresh cherries. A recent favorite at the Farmers Market was a strawberry cream-stuffed donut.
In the future, Freschke and Walker-Young would like to offer value-added products crafted from the orchard at the market.
“Apple cider syrup is regional, local and tastes far better than maple syrup,” Walker-Young said. Freschke added that they enjoyed their apple cider syrup all winter long on cornmeal pancakes that Walker-Young made from the corn raised in their garden.
For now, Farmers Market customers will just have to be satisfied with the fruits of the orchard encased in donuts.
“After the pandemic, and holing up, the market has been a blessing to see people, meet people, and have conversations,” Freschke said. “We are really grateful to all our neighbors who pitch in to help with Orchard House.”