Meet Arizona Agriculture's Holcomb Family
Meet the Holcomb farm family: The Holcomb family of the now-famous Apple Annie’s from Cochise County. They are a part of Apple Annie's Orchard, which is the definition of a family operation. John, Annie, their son, Matt, and his wife, Alicia, daughter, Mandy, and her husband, David, own and operate the Orchard along with John's father, Don.
In agritourism since the mid-1980s, Apple Annie’s is synonymous with farm family fun. They’ve become a model for others when farm families decide to open a portion of their farm to the public. They work at keeping the experience authentic and memorable. As Farm Bureau members they’ve also become a favorite for us to feature, along with our other agritourism farms in Arizona.
A farm profile of the Holcomb family with interview answers from daughter Mandy Kirkendall, co-owner of Apple Annie’s in Cochise County.
An ongoing series of our farm and ranch families.
Tell us about your farm, ranch, or agribusiness operation(s). Willcox is top-tier for you-pick fruit and vegetable growing thanks to the 4300' elevation of the Sulphur Springs Valley. The Springs provides Apple Annie's Orchard with warm days and cool nights. During the early 1980s, our family planted 6,000 trees with the idea of growing commercially. When the trees started producing in 1986, We decided to sell our apples on a you-pick basis. My mom, Annie, and my brother, Matt, were baking pies and apple bread, and my father, John, oversaw growing apples and making cider. I was the sales clerk, and we enjoyed fun-filled, busy days.
We then started planting peaches and pears and grafting some of our original apple trees to new varieties. We wanted to have fruit available for our customers to pick throughout our 4-month season. Today our customers are enjoying the fruits of our labor! Throughout the years, we have added many new activities for our customers to enjoy during their visit, including an Orchard Grill serving apple-smoked burgers on the weekends. Apple Annie's Attic, our country gift shop, hayrides to the Orchard, a giant corn maze, and many festivals. Be sure to check our Fall Festivities.
Why did you choose to go into agriculture? My big city-raised parents moved to Willcox and got into agriculture in the early 1980s "to make much more money," ha-ha! They quickly learned the hard work, trials, and failures of it. I joined the family business full-time in 2006 once the company could add another full-time paid staff member. My main job was public relations and advertising, which has evolved to managing that department and our bakery and sales.
What changes have you seen in your life related to farming, ranching, or agribusiness? In the last couple of years, we have seen so many more people out enjoying the outdoors, and it has become trendy to pick your fruits and vegetables and share your experience on social media. We are fortunate to be an "in" activity.
Will anyone in your family – the younger generation - pursue farming, ranching, or agribusiness? Right now, my brother and I are running the business, and we hope our children will want to take over one day.
Would you ever consider changing your business model? We are always looking for ways to improve what we do, but we aren't looking to change our direction.
What are your community activities? We sponsor many local events/fundraisers benefiting schools, our hospital, FFA, and local tourism. I co-chair the tourism committee for the City of Willcox.
Why are you involved? To benefit local growth and advancement of the community.
What do you enjoy doing, and what is one fact nobody knows about you? I genuinely love my job, but when I take time away, I love traveling and always look for other agritourism farms to visit wherever my travels take me. Fun fact about me that very few people know, I love otters, and I could watch them play all day long.
Why are you a farm bureau member? For the ongoing support for agriculture in Arizona. Also, for the help with our insurance needs.
What's the best business advice you've ever been given and experienced? Keep the farm experience authentic. We could add so many attractions to grow the business, but we want to keep the fresh fruits and veggies as the main attraction.
Editor’s Note: To find out hours of operation and more, go to Apple Annie's.