ParkTalk Podcast
ParkTalk Blog
  • 630-848-5000
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates and Participation Guidelines. More information regarding the District’s response can be found here

95th Street Farmers Market Vendor Story: Gundersen Orchards – Crisp, fall apples are on their way!

Apple picking captures the essence of autumn: cool, crisp air, bright fall colors, and fresh, juicy apples ready to be picked. The next best thing to picking apples yourself is to visit a farmers market where you can find apples of every variety along with delicious apple treats, such as apple cider, caramel apples, homemade pies, and apple cider donuts. 

The Gundersons brought these early Galas and Golden Supreme apples to the market in early September

Gundersen Orchards will be bringing their finest apples of the season to the 95th Street Farmers Market on Thursdays from 3:00-7:00 p.m. in September and will continue visiting Naperville in October at the 5th Ave. Station Farmers Market.
Mari and Eric Gundersen at their stand at the 95th Street Farmers Market

I spoke with Eric Gundersen at the 95th Street Market to learn more about the family orchard and all of the different varieties of fruit that they grow. Eric’s parents began the family orchard years ago in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and continue to assist their grandson, Brett, a University of Illinois graduate, who now manages the orchard. Eric and his wife, Mari, live in the Naperville area, managing The Growing Place garden centers in both Naperville and Aurora and representing Gundersen’s at the 95th Street Farmers Market.

Gundersen sign at the 95th Street Farmers Market

The weather has affected the orchard in 2019. In early February, temperatures dipped to 15 degrees below zero for one day, which was enough to kill the peach blossoms. The peach trees themselves survived, but produced no peaches this summer. Thanks to a partnership with another orchard, Gundersen brought New Jersey peaches to the market to sell. 

Gundersen’s New Jersey peaches for the 2019 season, with Michigan peaches lost to a cold snap in February
The apple blossoms were not harmed in the severe winter cold, but the cool, wet spring has delayed their ripening by several weeks. The pears also are late this year, but will include new varieties of pears that were planted three years ago.  
Apple cider comes later in the season, usually in October. Gunderson Orchards mixes several varieties of apples to make their cider for the best flavor. Eric said that they take their apples to a local cider press near the orchard. The cider is treated with UV light, not heat, so the full flavor is retained and the cider can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. He also recommends freezing it in portions if you can’t drink it all at once. It freezes well and tastes as good as fresh cider as long as you thaw it completely. 

For making pies, Gundersen sells bags of apples chosen for the best pie flavor, with assorted varieties like Yellow Delicious, Winesap and Cortland. 

Gundersen Orchards will bring a beautiful lineup of apple varieties to the 95th Street Market and the Fifth Ave. Market this fall. Some of the varieties that Eric mentioned include:
Gundersen Orchards’ Pristine Apples

Pristine – Early (August-September), green, tart and sweet
Zestar – Early, (August-September) tart and sweet
September apples:
Gala – Sweet, an eating apple
Cortland – Crispy, great for eating, drying, pies, sauce, jelly, salads
October apples:
Honeycrisp – Large, firm, crisp, sweet – a favorite
Kindercrisp – A new variety related to the Honeycrisp. Trees were planted three years ago and Brett has tasted a few and said that they were sweet and delicious.
Empire – A cross between Red Delicious and Macintosh, great for eating.
Fuji – All-purpose apple, stores well
Golden Supreme – Sweet, crisp variety of Golden Delicious
Macintosh – A favorite for eating, pies, sauce, jelly
Red Delicious – Sweet, for eating
Golden Delicious – Sweet, for eating, baking, sauce, pies
Jonathan – Tart, firm, good for eating, baking, jelly, sauce
Jonagold – Sweet, medium firm, good for eating, baking, sauce, jelly, and pies.
Jonamac – A cross between Jonathan and Macintosh.
Braeburn – Sweet, all-purpose
Winesap – Good for pies, baking, eating
Rome – Firm, good for baking

Other Fall Favorites at the 95th Street Market:

Windy Acres Farm (above) will be offering apple cider donuts this month! They also sell Honeycrisp and Jonagold apples and apple, strawberry rhubarb and cherry pies.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is back with their amazing caramel apples. 

Sunset Growers Greenhouse will have mums and pumpkins. 



Connect your business’s brand with a well-known and respected one like
the Naperville
Park District’s and reach a large, active and diverse audience.

To learn more about our sponsorship opportunities
contact Stacey Fontechia Sales and Sponsorship Manager at 630-848-3575 or at
Please consider making a donation of any amount to our Fee Assistance Program.
Your contribution will help Naperville residents in need enjoy the benefits of recreation programs.