Apples keep growing at Hanson's despite obstacles
One of my favorite fall activites is heading out to the apple orchard and loading up on some delicious apples.
A few weeks afo I had the pleasure of spending a couple hours at Hanson's Apple Barn on the west side of Dodge Center. David Hanson has been operating on orchard for about 20 years. Hanson knows his apples. He has a degree in horticulture and spent 23 years serving Dodge County as the agricultural extension agent through the University of Minnesota. He also attends annual meetings to learn how to successfully operate an apple orchard. Not surprisingly, all of the different kinds of apples at Hanson’s orchard are from the U of M.
Honey Crisp happens to be his favorite. “There is nothing like biting into one,” he said. “It’s a nice, crunchy apple.”
Hanson, who has served as the city arborist for Dodge Center, is impressed with the progress Minnesota has made with apples over the years.
“Minnesota apples are better than if they come out of Washington State,” he said.
Besides a love of apples and trees, the retired Dodge County commissioner shared a part of his life that many likely don’t know. Hanson grew up with polio, which he described as a nerve disease that affects the muscles. He has experienced paralysis in his left hand.
Polio is a highly contagious disease that is caused by a virus that attacks the body’s nervous system. Polio vaccine wasn’t made available until 1957.
“You just have to endure it,” Hanson said. “It’s something I’ve had to deal with.” After contracting polio in his teenage years, he missed his sophomore year of high school. But it didn’t keep him from playing sports.
“I built myself up to play football in high school,” he said. “All of your muscles have to be retaught.”
Years later, Hanson continues to su er from polio. “I feel like a bag of bones,” he said.
But, even with the physical challenges, he nds a way to ght through it.
“It has not handicapped me to the point of where I can’t do things,” he said. “It hasn’t done anything to me that I can’t overcome in another way.” Hanson credits his son, Kenneth, for helping him keep his dream of operating an apple orchard alive. Hanson handles the low-hanging fruit, but relies on his son to do the heavy lifting and high reaching of picking apples.
He takes great pride in many of his accomplishments, especially his offerings to apple lovers.
“It has been a wonderful part of my life to do things for people,” Hanson said. “It’s fun to see people buy apples.”
Hanson was born in Hutchinson, Minn., and moved away to Utah during the Depression and later Colorado, where he lived on a hobby farm.
“We couldn’t eat anything from the trees, so my dad bought me a sprayer,” he said, noting ever since he has been intrigued with growing and caring for apples.
He moved to a couple other cities in southern Minnesota before ending up in Dodge Center.
“I was lucky to buy this place,” Hanson said. “I talked the farmer out of it and he sold the land to me.”
Ever since, the farm has become his refuge and haven.
And it’s one that has brought lots of smiles to folks of all ages as they go in hot pursuit of landing that perfect apple.