Unusually humid summer has impact on local produce

Humidity takes a toll on peaches, grapes, apples

MONTVALE, Va. – This summer has been exceptionally humid in southwest and central Virginia. Up until this weekend, we've seen dew points in the 70s on 46 days so far. That's something that's only happened 13 other times since 1912. 

This humidity provides a challenge for local produce farmers. That's why we went to Chapel Creek Farms in Montvale. Here, you'll find a tradition in farming, home values and sweet treats. 

Co-owner Melody Divers tells us that her mission is to get people back in the kitchen, bonding with one another.

She says, "I want people to realize if they took 20 to 30 minutes, they could do something homemade and fresh and it's a great treat. They could recreate those memories with their family."

From spending a few minutes at their cider barn, you feel like you're part of the family. Their unofficial word at the barn is 'linger.'

"We want people to linger. This isn't a place that you rush."

Long-time friend and customer, Gayle Montgomery, makes the drive from Franklin County often to come to the barn. She says she makes that drive to, "...purchase whatever they have in season. I love to know their farming practices that are similar to the practices we adopt on our own farm."

Johnny Divers has been carrying on the family tradition of farming on this land. He says that each year, the weather can become challenging. 

He says that, "Every year is different, which is why I enjoy doing it. It keeps me interested."

This year, in particular, the oppressive humidity has been Divers' challenge. "The grapes and peaches have had a little more rot than I'd like to have. The humidity keeps them damp a lot more and causes a lot of problems."

Despite these issues, the family says they feel blessed to come away with what they get. They understand what they got into and are thankful for their success so far.

In a few weeks, they'll be picking more varieties of apples that they grow on Kennedy's Orchard in Bedford. This will go into making their delicious apple cider, and also goes a long way when making applesauce and apple pie. 

Johnny Divers taught us that, "The more variety of apples I can get into the mix to make cider, the better the cider will be."

You can see how Johnny makes the cider in a raw video that we've posted here.

BARN HOURS: Wednesday 4-7, Friday 3-6, and Saturday 9-2

UPCOMING EVENTS: Customer Appreciation Day (9 a.m. on Sept 29), Farm Prom (7 p.m. on Oct. 20), Cider Barn Fall Fest (6:30 p.m. on Oct. 26), and Christmas at the Cider Barn (4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8)

DIRECTIONS TO THE BARN: 4915 Pike Road in Montvale, Virginia

Turn onto Goose Creek Valley Road, off of 460. Pass the fire department. Do NOT turn right at Goose Creek Valley Road and drive in front of One Faith Fellowship Church. Instead, continue traveling straight. You'll pass the Rec Club on your left. Keep going. You'll see Crouch Road on the right in a curve...do not travel there. Keep traveling on Pike Road. You'll pass a trailer park on the left and see some large cattle pastures. There'll be a curve with a brown house on the left. Our Cider Barn is right in front of the brown house. The barn has a red roof and a gravel driveway. The driveway is next to a gray house with a green roof.

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