Our Family

About Catoctin Mountain Orchard

The history of how it all started…

Catoctin Mountain Orchard was started in 1948 when Harry Black, who was working for the owner Ira Kelbaugh, helped start and build an open-air retail market just north of Thurmont, Maryland along Rt. 15.

70% of the 100 acres of Apple and Peaches were sold to truckers and the wholesale markets in Baltimore and the Washington-Virginia areas. Harry and Helen Black then purchased the farm from Mr. Kelbaugh in 1961 and built several additions to the open air retail market.  And In 1983 they decided to close up the “open air” market and build a 50’x50′ addition. Several changes were made over the next seven years including building three cold storage rooms in 1964 & 1968, four Irrigation ponds and an Apple grader to wash and size the Apples.

From Left Patricia Black, Harry Black, Helen Black, Robert Black
Harry Black, centered, founder of Catoctin Mountain Orchard

Our Mission

Our mission is to produce high quality, great tasting fruits, berries, and vegetables. We aim to increase the efficiency of our crop while still maintaining responsible stewardship of the land and water. We pride ourselves on engaging with the community by directly interacting with customers first hand while building relationships and sharing our strong family values.

Who we are now…

Today we grow Strawberries, Black Raspberries, Blueberries, Apricots, Sweet & Sour Cherries, White & Yellow Peaches & Nectarines, Plums, Kale, Cabbage, Squash, Cukes, Tomatoes, Apples, Pears, Concord Grapes, Blackberries, Cantaloupes, Peppers, Rhubarb, Kiwi Berries, and more.

Some of our favorite flowers are Zinnias, Lisianthus, Gornphrena, Celosia, BlackEyed Susan, Statice, Asters, Cocks Comb, and Snap Dragons. Which are offered for U-pick along with berries and cherries in the summer and apples in the fall. 

Our most popular addition has been our bakery, we offer many flavors of fruit pies including some of our top customer favorites such as Apple, Cherry, Four Berry, Peach, Strawberry Rhubarb and many more. Also included in our bakery are pound cakes brownies, crumb cakes and apple cider donuts.

Robert Black Apple Grower of the year 2020
Kylie Robertson(4th Gen.), Patricia Black(2nd Gen.), Graysen Marshall(5th Gen.), Robert Black(2nd Gen.), Katlyn Robertson(4th Gen.)

As the farm grew and different types of produce were grown, having enough labor became a challenge in the late 1980s and the family decided to hire part-time labor to help out the full-time employees with pruning and harvesting. The farm was very fortunate to hire four Mexican men to help and these men have been with the farm ever since and are a very important part of its success.

One of the main reasons Catoctin Mountain Orchard is able to produce crops is the ability to irrigate our entire farm with Trickle or Drip irrigation using miles of tubing and small electric pumps. This tubing has very small holes every 24′ that drips water out and is laid along the rows to feed the crops. This method helps us to conserve water and energy.

With Integrate Pest Management (IPM), we monitor bad insects with traps. Good insects eat bad ones. This reduces the number of chemicals necessary to maintain a healthy crop. Learn more about our commitment to the land

Many years ago, Catoctin Mountain Orchard started contracting with the school lunch program, where our apples are used to supply lunches in Frederick County Public Schools. It’s wonderful that “Frederick County Students” are eating many varieties of our great tasting apples. We’re providing them with great Apple eating experience that we hope will last a lifetime!

Today, the 2nd & 4th generation of the Harry Black Family work very hard to bring you the safest, best tasting fruit, berries & vegetables that can be grown on our rich soils that we strive to improve and protect for generations to come!

History of Catoctin`s Own AUTUMN GALA

Autumn Gala is sweet and the crunchiest of ALL Gala Apple varieties grown. It was found here on a limb of a “Kidd`s D8” Gala tree over 20 years ago. We named it “Harry Black Gala” in memory of my father after he died in 1998. The “Trade” Name or the listing at the Tree Nurseries is “Autumn Gala”. Many Nurseries all over the world have test trees planted to see how it performs in other climates.

About the Founder

Harry Black, 1st Generation of Catoctin Mountain Orchard    

Catoctin Mountain Orchard was started in 1948 when Harry Black, who was working for the owner Ira Kelbaugh, helped start and build an open-air retail market just north of Thurmont, Maryland along Rt. 15.

Harry Black graduated from Thurmont High School, and lived across from the farm. At the time he had worked for Hammaker memorial right in our town, but was offered a part time job with Mr. Kelbaugh to earn some extra money since the depression of the 30s was very harsh, and Harry had lost his father at just 16 years old. He was then offered a full-time job with his high interests in the farm. 

With all of his hard work, time and energy he was then offered to help manage the farm alongside Mr. Kelbaugh. Harry Black loved to farm—it was in his blood from the very beginning, and it was his passion. From just a young age you could always find him in the fields with his two siblings and mother picking green beans that were being processed in Thurmont to be canned, and learning whatever it took to be a great farmer one day, and he did just that. He loved to travel to many farms to learn new techniques and made lifelong friends along the way. He enjoyed the time he got to spend with his children going on vacation when there was time, playing cards, visiting friends and family and later on developed a huge passion for Hershey Bears Ice Hockey.

Harry Black loved to farm—it was in his blood from the very beginning, and it was his passion.

Scroll to Top

Guidelines for Pick-Your-Own Fruit

  1. You must purchase your Pick Your Own bags at the check-in building located above the market on your way to the playground. You will see apple signs on the building indicating the check in for pick your own apples.
  2. Park your strollers and leave your pets, containers, bags, backpacks, coolers & blankets at home or in your car. These items are prohibited inside the orchard.
  3. You must take the wagon ride to and from the field. The wagons run continuously
  4. All Apples picked must fit inside the bag you purchased. You cannot carry any apples out of the orchard. If you do, you will have to buy an additional Bag for them.
  5. Before leaving home, please check back on this page or call 301-271-2737
  6. for picking availability and hours depending on weather conditions. Catoctin reserves the right to close the Apple Orchard due to inclement weather that may include heavy rain, thunder, lightning and/or severe winds without advanced notice in order to protect our customers and employees.
  7. No picnicking in the orchard. Picnic tables are located at the playground.
  8. No walking in the orchard. We have moving tractors and other large machinery at work.
  9. No pets in the orchard.
  10. If you drop an apple or an apple falls off the tree while picking, we kindly ask you to pick it up to ensure no apple goes to waste. Thank You.
  11. All sales final, no refunds.