MURPHYSBORO, Ill.— As you walk through the doors of Mileur Orchard and look to your right, you’ll notice a small framed photo hanging on the wall. That portrait showed four generations of orchardists that make up the rich history of the Mileur Orchard. The Mileur’s farm has been in the family since the mid 1800’s when their great grandfather immigrated to the United States. Gaylyn Mileur Boyer said she remembers when the first fruit trees were planted in 1961. Owners, Howard and Lisa Mileur, have continued this fruit growing tradition since Mileur’s father first planted those original trees.

As the economy and fruit prices have shifted, the nature of the orchard operations had to be adjusted. What began as an apple orchard turned into a mostly peach orchard with some apples still being grown on property. Present day, the Mileurs have 20 acres of peaches and five acres of apples on the farm.  

Over the course of the evening, the Mileurs discussed experiences growing and marketing over 30 varieties of peaches, nine varieties of apples, along with some apriums, pluots, and plums. He noted that labor is the most limiting factor. Peach growing in southern Illinois can be somewhat of a trial with excessive rain and extreme cold weather having a negative impact on the trees. 

They extend their growing season with late-season peaches. Mileur Orchard is the first to market but also last to market as big growers typically switch over to pick apples in the fall.  One of the most popular peach types they offer is the donut, which is a smaller fruit with a unique shape and smaller pit. They have seven to nine varieties with the white donut peach being their sweetest fruit. 

In 2010, they expanded their retail space, building a new retail market which included a new cooler and small commercial kitchen. They use the commercial kitchen to make fruit cobblers and desserts to sell at the market. Additionally, they sell at the Urbana Farmers Market and market some fruit wholesale. For those interested in establishing a commercial kitchen, Lisa Mileur encouraged individuals to do their research to know what permits and approvals are required for their county and town.

The twilight meeting, which was a partnership with the Jackson and Union County Farm Bureaus helped further support education about our local farms. At the end of the meeting, participants had a chance to sample delicious, local produce from the orchard and area farms.

University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems & Small Farms Educators, Bronwyn Aly and Nathan Johanning, have been partnering with area farms over the past five years to provide evening meetings to highlight and demonstrate diverse farming enterprises across southern Illinois.  If you have missed the past summer twilight meetings, there is still time to catch one more. The final 2019 twilight meeting will be held Monday, August 19, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at the Jackson County Extension office at 402 Ava Road in Murphysboro, Ill. Topics of discussion include high tunnel production of vegetables and cut flowers, no-till tomato production and variety selections, asparagus production and cover crops. Meetings are free and open to the public but pre-registration is appreciated. Individuals can register by calling (618) 695-6060 no later than August 16.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in programming, contact your local registration office. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your needs.

News source: Nathan Johanning, 618-687-1727, njohann@illinois.edu

News source: Bronwyn Aly, 618-695-6060, baly@illinois.edu

News writer: Heather Willis, 618-357-2126, hdwillis@illinois.edu