Kathryn Dumas paints a picture of the 1920s not as a decade of parties with flapper-dress-clad young ladies but as an idyllic scene. It’s one in which her parents-in-law, Ed and Beatrice Dumas, moved from south Minneapolis to a home orchard in Long Lake in 1925, full of anticipation of what was to come.
To accompany the 20 apple trees on the plot, Ed and Beatrice planted raspberry bushes, strawberries, tomatoes—even watermelon. They lived a simple farming life and in 1930, built a small market stall on their property to sell their homegrown fruit. The market even served as a gas station and Dumas still has the Tydol-Veedol sign as proof.
Over the years, though, more and more apple trees took the place of the other fruit, but one thing was certain: Regardless of its wares, the Dumas Orchards has already been entrenched in Lake Minnetonka’s heart.
Bob, Dumas’ husband, lived on the orchard his entire life, and he plans to keep it that way. Growing up summer after summer around blooming, fragrant dwarf apple trees, Bob says what he likes most about running the orchard is simple: “Growing,” he says. “I like seeing everything grow.”
Dumas knows, “He doesn't do it for the money,” adding, “I do it because he likes it, and I enjoy talking to people.”
The social aspect is one that the family and community members have fostered together. Ask Dumas and she’ll tell you it’s part of the reason why Dumas Orchards are so successful, as she recalls how people come up to her and say, “’My mother used to take me here when I was a kid!’”
“Seeing all the people who have come for years and years… We've seen whole families grow up,” she says.
With a smile, Dumas recalls the days before insurance costs and coverage limited tours of the orchard. “We used to have so many tours here,” she says. “The kids were always so excited and we must have had, oh, tours three times a week!” It was very convenient for elementary school teachers to bring a class to the orchards off Highway 12, currently right across the street from Orono Intermediate School.
The Dumas’ loved having young visitors to their orchard. Inside their home, there’s a stuffed frog seated at an old-fashioned player piano, and Dumas explains why: “Bob used to tap the frog’s head and say, ‘Magic Froggy play!’ as I’d flip the switch to turn it on.” Anything to put a smile on a kid’s face.
As the matriarch of the family walks us into her Apple House Market, which has been standing since 1972, the 85-year-old points out the homemade tags and shelves which house the 30 major apple varieties they sell: Ericksons, Orioles, Paula Reds, Cortlands, Honey Golds and the famed Wealthy apples. It takes practically all the Dumas’ extended family to work at the orchards to keep business humming. Dumas says matter-of-factly, “If you belong to the Dumas family, [work here is] pretty much required.”
But it’s not all blood, sweat and tears. Work at the orchards is like happy family reunions. With a recipe that blends hard work, nostalgia of keeping family traditions alive and a touch of whimsy, the three generations of Dumas’ have created a classic business and pillar of the Long Lake community.
The forseeable future is all about Dumas keeping her day job at Macy’s and her husband enjoying his retirement from being the city’s postmaster, and keeping their hobby/commercial farm running, as their children have branched out on their own adventures. But Dumas remains optimistic and says that while she and her 85-year-old husband will keep running the Dumas Orchards as long as they can.