Name: Rodney Bailey

Age: 72

Title: Owner

Business: Bailey’s Orchards, Whitefield

About: Family-owned orchard, with a pick-your-own season of 50 varieties of apples in the fall, wholesale sales and a cider press and farm store that opens in August.



What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Getting help. We can’t find any help. It’s all physical work, and no one wants to do it. I am doing it myself and I’m 72, so it’s not killing work, but it’s physical. It’s almost impossible to hire people.

At this time of the year, we don’t need anybody. My son helps me.

But in the fall, we need three or four people. It depends on the crop.

When you pick apples, you wear a picking bag and climb a ladder and pick apples. You could have 25 or 30 pounds hanging on the front of you.

This is why all the big orchards hire migrant workers, because they come and they work hard.


I work hard myself, and my son and daughter both work for us in the fall, but they have full-time jobs.

What’s the best advice you can give?

Don’t get into the orchard business.

There are regulations, food safety regulations. We spend as much time in the classroom as we do raising apples. We have to be licensed for growing or spraying, and we have to be licensed for the cider mill. The training is ongoing. Once you get through one, you have to do another.

How do you foster creativity in yourself or your staff?

Well, it’s my wife (Kay) and our son (Mark) and daughter (Margo.) We can sit down and solve a problem. We don’t have to answer to a board of trustees. It works well for us. Our kids grew up in with and they know what we do and what’s involved with the whole business.


What’s your biggest fear?

Right now? Weather is always a concern. We worry about hailstorms or hurricanes. We don’t get many hurricanes, but we get hailstorms. Five minutes of hail can ruin your crop.

If it gets real warm in March and the trees are budded out and it gets cold again, that will ruin them. The cold can get them when they are in blossom, too. We don’t need really warm weather until May or June. This year is going to be a challenge if it keeps on like this with warm temperatures. It’s been in the 40s and 50s, but if it gets into the 60s and 70s in March, it’s too warm.

Later in the year, hail is a major problem. Everybody don’t get hit all the time, but somebody does get hit. All it takes is five or 10 minutes to dent the apples or cut them right up.

Where do you see your business in five years?

I don’t know. Same as it is now, I guess.


We are the second generation, and we’ve been doing this for 45 years. My father and mother (Jesse and Maxine) did this for 10 or 15 years, and my son and daughter are the third generation.

If I am alive, I am planning on working. This is one of the jobs you do until you die. It’s something that gets into your blood. I have done this for 45 years. I worked a second job for the first 30 years.

We’re not sure what’s going to happen.

My son and daughter both have full-time jobs. There’s not a lot of incentive to give up a good job to do this.

For now, we’re going to keep on going. You never know what’s going to happen.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.