Levering Orchard was founded in 1908 by Frank Levering's grandfather, Ralph Levering, who was originally a strawberry and sweet potato farmer in eastern Tennessee. Legend has it that he grew tired of having to stoop for a living. He wanted to reach for the sky as he picked his fruit. So in 1907, the Columbia University-educated Ralph Levering wrote the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C., inquiring about the best place to set out an apple orchard in the Southeast. Where would apples grow best to escape spring freezes? Levering Orchard was primarily an apple orchard until the 1970s when Sam Levering had a major insight -- the several cherry trees planted near his and Miriam's home drew flocks of pick-your-own customers just as surely as the multitudes of hungry birds. There were never enough cherries to meet demand. So, despite the conventional wisdom that cherries couldn't be grown commercially in this region, in 1972, Sam boldly pushed out a large block of apple trees and went into the cherry business in a big way. Sam's risky experiment turned out to be the then-floundering orchard's salvation. Today Levering Orchard's primary crop is cherries. On a good season, the cherries start as early as late May and can extend to the Fourth of July and sometimes beyond. Almost 30 years after Sam's planting, Levering Orchard claims the title as the largest cherry orchard in the South and draws customers from as far as Washington DC and Atlanta to pick its 43 varieties of sweet and sour cherries.
Ararat, Virginia (approximately 12 miles north of Mount Airy, NC)
Pick Your Own
Cherry picking typically begins in mid-May but for exact dates, call 336-786-4316