Cherry Picking at the Levering Orchard

The phrase “staff retreat” typically summons moans and groans, right? But my office always does things a differently. This past Friday we all headed north to do a little team building in the Levering Orchard in Ararat, Virginia. I couldn’t have had more fun climbing ladders and eating cherries straight from the trees all day. This experience has the most odd montage of cultural clichés. Picture old European style wooden latters in fields of fruit trees yet being greeted by the Southern charm of a young girl who says “Are ya’ll ready to peeaak?” It took my intern all day to realize she was actually saying “pick” and not just telling us to “peek” at the cherries. We all came home with a better sense of each other and individual bags of about 12 pounds of cherries – each!

The next day I traveled to the eastern side of North Carolina for a Memorial Day beach vacation at Wrightsville Beach. I, of course, spent the week prior to vacation in panic trying to decide what to bring and what to cook. I worried daily about what kinds of equipment would be missing from the rental house kitchen but told myself that I shouldnt be trying to cook like a professional on vacation and real cooks can improvise. I brought two knives and left the rest to beach house fate. I was not the Greensboro resident to win the NC Powerball this weekend nor did my luck prevail in the beach house kitchen. Cooking here is a bit of a challenge but we are making it work.

We have been eating cherries as snacks and aside brunch this weekend. Last night with about six pounds of cherries left over and time running against us, Masha (one of my fantastic beachmates) and I decided to make my Dad’s recipe for Peach Cobbler and use the cherries instead of peaches. My friend (and other beachmate) Patrick suggested that we add almonds so we added slivered almonds to the batter. It turned out to be a delicious nightcap on the porch after a long day at play. And it proves that however much cooking equipment one has – butter pulls through every time.


  1. I live in Mount Airy, NC, very close to this orchard and one of my best friends grew up with the family and has worked on the orchard, along with her father. I was just wondering how the cherry harvest was this year. I will have to go there very soon!

  2. If you live anywhere near the middle of North Carolina, Levering Orchards is a must-visit!

    Check out their website for a list of fruit that is ready to pick. I just finished pitting two large buckets of cherries this weekend and made a cobbler last night. Delicious!

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