Q: How large is your orchard? 

A: We have approximately 3,700 fruit trees on 13 acres. 

Q: Is it still a family-run business? 

A: Yes. My husband, “Capt. Jack” McAdam, and I run daily operations. 

Q: Tell me a bit about the family history.

A: The business is located on a portion of a 450-acre tract purchased at a tax auction in 1779 for “52 pounds, 10 shillings” by Joshua Hanson. It was passed from him to a nephew (we think), also named Joshua Hanson, and then down through his children to my grandmother, Mary (Hanson) McDougal and her husband, a rancher named Alva McDougal.

They were visiting Maine from New Mexico when my great-grandfather, George W. Hanson, passed away suddenly. My grandfather Alva figured ranching wasn’t an option here, so in 1931, he planted 16 acres of McIntosh and Cortland trees in what is now our main orchard.

It was estimated then that 16 acres of apple trees would support a family with four children. My dad, Robert Hanson McDougal, and my uncle, Cliff Davis, took over the operation in the early 1950s. My brother Evan and I were partners with my father for many years. Jack and I have overseen operations since 2010. 

Q: How long does it take a tree to establish fruit?

A: A tree on dwarfing rootstock will produce fruit the year it is planted, but we take all the first-year blossoms off. We want the tree to develop a good structure first.

The second year, we thin off most of the blossoms, leaving a few to develop into fruit to ensure the tree is actually the variety we ordered. In the event it is a variety we haven’t had before, we want to see how that variety does in our area.

By the third year, we’re picking almost a full crop from the tree. 

Q: How many pounds do you sell each year?

A: We keep track of the number of bushels of each variety picked. A bushel box holds between 40 and 44 pounds of apples, depending on the variety.

We typically harvest around 5,000 bushels per year. Quite a few go on the ground. That’s the nature of the “pick your own” business. 

Q: What else do you grow or sell? 

A: Peaches, pears, plums, nectarines, fall-bearing raspberries, pumpkins and winter squash, and we dabble in hoop-house tomatoes and cucumbers. There are other things we sell from the garden out back, but the list depends on what I feel like planting and sharing. 

Q: Tell me about Capt. Jack’s cider doughnuts. Is that a family operation too?

A: My husband Jack previously captained fisheries research vessels out of Woods Hole, Mass., for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — hence the moniker.

Before he retired a few years ago, I attended a trade conference and got interested in producing apple cider doughnuts. We did some research and bought a small doughnut-making machine. We reconfigured an old cross-country ski kitchen, maneuvered through the regulatory process and Jack started making doughnuts on weekends.

Needless to say, they’re a huge hit. Between doughnuts and his volunteer position as “market master” of the Sanford Farmers Market, he stays busy and out of trouble.