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Fresh apples, donuts and fun for all ages: Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard is a Council Bluffs fall staple

Posted at 7:39 AM, Sep 28, 2022

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa. (KMTV) — When it comes to apples, it’s hard to find someone who knows more than Lyle Ditmars.

It started in 1993. Ditmars wanted to find something he could do with his four kids. After getting the land in Council Bluffs, he and his family planted 300 apple trees the following year.

Now, nearly 30 years later, the family’s operation at Ditmars Orchard and Vinyard has evolved into something he never imagined.

“I just thought we would plant a few trees, pick a few apples, and get them sold,” Ditmars said. “It didn’t seem like it would be that big a deal, but it’s just become so much more.”

Just how much has it grown in apple trees alone?

“We’ve got about 4,500 trees total,” he said. “I know the next question you are going to ask is, ‘Do you pick them by hand?’ Yes, we do. Every one, one at a time.”

Although not all ripe at the same time, the orchard’s trees consist of more than 30 different varieties of apples.

3 News Now anchor Zach Williamson tried four right off the tree.

“When you get a fresh one right off the tree, you’re living,” Ditmars said.

Ditmars Orchard has fresh apples you can buy in its stores but have the u-pick option as well.

“When you see a little kid come running up with an apple, it’s pretty cool.”

Inside the store you can find all things made with apples. You can also see them making their own apple cider.

“It is actually true apple Juice. The stuff that you buy at the store that they call apple juice isn’t really apple juice, it’s made from concentrate,” Ditmars said.

However, it’s far from just apples. Ditmars grows strawberries, pears, cherries, pumpkins, peppers, and tomatoes—just to name a few.

“You can come here and get a bushel of tomatoes for 50 cents a pound,” he said. “There’s not many places you can go and buy tomatoes at 50 cents a pound.”

Produce isn’t the only thing you can pick. They grow a long list of flowers, too.

“We have a lot of mothers that come out, bring their little ones with, and say let’s pick a bouquet for grandma or for mommy or whatever,” Ditmars said. “The kids will come in and they’re just tickled pink because they’ve never seen or had the opportunity to do stuff like that.”

The fun for the kids doesn’t stop there.

“Then we added a playground, then we added tractor rides, and barrel cart rides and bounce houses.”

Throw in a ten-acre corn maze and 14 goats, who are basically family now.

“You got Eddy and Merrick and Hellen and Carl, you got them all out there.”

There is fun in store for just the adults too.

“Now we work with a winery. We provide them with the product, and they do the fermenting.”

In the new wine tasting room, you can try out a couple of wine flights, and even some hard cider.

Ditmars' number one seller though is something everyone can enjoy.

“Then of course we got into donuts,” he said.

They make thousands and thousands of cases of donuts every week.

“We not only sell them here but also at the Hyvee grocery stores,” Ditmars said.

There’s truly something for everyone at the orchard.

“People come out and say, ‘we’re anxious to come out because we never know what new thing you’re going to add.’ We like to see it,” Ditmars said. “We got a lot of friends.”

Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard also has a full lunch and dinner menu, along with ice cream and pies.

On Friday nights, it hosts live music and other community events. The orchard’s hours are below.

To learn more about Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard or to check out upcoming events, click here.