When Richard Sochacki wanted to start a small orchard in 2004, he looked to Purdue Extension for assistance. It takes a lot to start an orchard, but Sochacki says, “With help from Purdue, it blossomed.”
Sochacki contacted Purdue Extension educator John Orick, who pointed him toward valuable resources that Extension provides local growers. Resources such as start-up, growing, and marketing information available through workshops, seminars, and educational materials. Resources such as the New Ventures Team, which offers information to entrepreneurs wanting to start a food- or agriculture-related business. Resources such as INVenture, an online business planning tool that allows individuals to assess their ideas.
And resources such as one-on-one assistance, as Sochacki learned. After working with Extension fruit specialist Peter Hirst, Sochacki’s Apple of His Eye Orchard near Anderson, Ind., now produces 650 bushels of apples per year and is growing toward 1,000 bushels.
Sochacki’s success has led him to become a local resource. He now works with the Purdue Extension Madison County office, providing tours of his orchard to help others get started, and he works with the county’s local growers’ group as well.
And Sochacki continues to turn to Purdue Extension resources when confronted with new challenges. “There is plenty of help and information available,” he says. “The quality of people to help is superb.”