Geoff Thornton - Thorton Orchards
Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn
In 1904, Geoff’s great grandparents homesteaded in Quincy, WA. In 1908, they moved to Cashmere where they began the family orchard. Geoff’s grandfather, Roy Thornton, sold the original nine-acre orchard and house in Chelan County in order to purchase 100 acres in the Tonasket area in 1924. Geoff’s father grew up working in the orchard, but was drafted into the army in April of 1942. In 1972, he inherited 20 acres of the original farm and Geoff, then 9 years old, began helping in the orchard. Geoff attended Washington State University and Eastern Washington University, and then returned to Tonasket in 1986 to begin his farming career.
According to Thornton, friends in the industry call him a “contrarian” - sometimes Geoff is on the cutting edge of new farming technologies and techniques, while in other cases he intentionally sticks with traditional varieties and plantings. Today, Geoff grows almost every apple variety including: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Cameo, Cripps Pink and Piñata.
Despite expanding his operation to 300 acres, Geoff is still involved in every aspect of maintaining his orchards. “A successful apple growing season takes tremendous attention to detail seven days a week. There are no “weekends” during the growing season.” says Geoff.
Geoff’s family is involved in the orchard business – his wife Dianne has even spearheaded a new farm worker housing program to be operational this fall.
Among many other credentials, Geoff is a past president of the Okanogan County Horticultural Association and Growers Clearinghouse Board.