Way fruit farm’s history
It all began with a wedding gift of 1,000 apple trees…
…that were planted in 1872 by Robert A. Way in Halfmoon Valley and the rest, as they say, is history! Since then, Way Fruit Farm has expanded, renovated and diversified to ensure that this 6th generation family farm stays a thriving part of the Centre Country agricultural community. Currently, Way Fruit Farm produces: apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, sweet corn and pumpkins on the property. All these fruits and other local vegetables are sold at Way Fruit Farm’s retail facility, and at a few local farmers markets in the State College area. The new retail facility also offers fresh-pressed apple cider, an on-site bakery, and much more!
The Way family originally came to Halfmoon Valley in 1792. Jane and Caleb Way bought and lived on a farm in Stormstown, PA. There they had 14 children, one named Robert Way. Robert married in 1825 and bought his own 90 acres of land, which is now part of Way Fruit Farm, in 1826. Robert expanded his farm by buying mountain ground under the power lines (still there today) in 1867. After his death in 1867, the farmland passed to his son, Robert A. Way.
Robert A. Way married Lucretia Fisher in 1872. Lucretia’s father was William P. Fisher of Unionville, who was in the apple business. For a wedding gift, Lucretia’s parents gifted 1,000 apple trees to the newlyweds. They were planted on the property Robert A. Way owned, and thus an orchard was born. Robert A. Way built the first apple storage building on the farm around 1880. He would use his horse and wagon to travel and sell apples in Philipsburg, PA and also shipped barrels of apples by train from Port Matilda to Philadelphia. Robert A. Way operated the apple farm until 1915, when Darlington Hoopes Way (D.H. Way, as he preferred to be called) and his wife Ina Way bought the farm.
D.H. Way expanded the farm again by buying property at the top of what is now Orchard Road in 1927. He decided to plant that new property in a mixture of apples, peaches and cherries. He also converted the original barn on the new property to another apple storage facility. D.H. Way continued to peddle apples to local buyers in Philipsburg, but he also started to market further, and sold apples in bushel baskets by wholesale truckloads to Pittsburgh, PA. D.H. Way was the generation who decided to name the farm. There was no patent office at that time, but he sent in all of his farm’s information to a prominent farming magazine of the time, and they sent back the official name: Way Fruit Farm. D.H. Way passed away in 1944, leaving his wife Ina and her sons to run the farm. Eventually, Ina sold to her son, Elwood Way and his wife Emily in 1950.
In the 1950’s, things changed again in the apple business. Elwood Way started selling apples in plastic bags directly to the local grocery store chains such as: I.G.A, A&P, and Quaker Markets out of Punxsutawney. Elwood decided he needed a new apple storage facility, so he built one on a piece of his farmland right along Rte. 550. At that time, he sold his apples mostly wholesale and some to processors, such as Knouse Foods cannery, and had a little retail business by the roadside. In the 1970’s, the retail market started getting more lucrative. He eventually stopped selling apples to Philipsburg and Clearfield Co. and concentrated on selling more directly from his farm to his neighbors. Sweet corn, pumpkins, apple cider and apple butter were added to the sales lineup, as well as pre-picked strawberries in 1976.
In 1981, one of Elwood & Emily’s four sons, Brooks Way, along with his wife, Sharon, bought the farm. Over their 30 years of ownership, Brooks and Sharon updated and replanted apple tree varieties, as well as expanded the peach varieties offered. They planted and started selling sweet & sour cherries, plums, and apricots over the years too. This generation was the first one to buy their own stainless-steel cider press and started offering Fall festivals, wagon rides, and pumpkin picking each Fall. Agritourism had come to Way Fruit Farm! In 2008, Brooks knew he needed to update his apple storage and retail facility to better hold his ever larger apple crops. When his oldest daughter, Megan, and her husband, Jason Coopey, decided to return to the farm, that renovation process began.
Currently, Way Fruit Farm is run by the 6th generation, Jason and Megan (Way) Coopey. Way Fruit Farm now boasts two new, energy-efficient apple coolers as well as an updated apple sorting and cider press facility, in a newly erected metal building. The 1950’s apple storage facility, originally built by Elwood Way, has been repurposed to hold an expanded retail facility for our fruit, seasonal local vegetables, and all sorts of local grocery items, as well as The Way Café, Bakery and Deli.
Way Fruit Farm still offers lots of family fun from school tours to various festivals to cooking classes. Way Fruit Farm is an old-fashioned, 6th generation family business, but you can find out about our family-friendly activities on social media including Facebook and Instagram. So, as farming and the apple business continue to change and evolve with customers wanting new varieties and more local food selection, so too does Way Fruit Farm continue to change and grow.