When visitors step onto Knaebe’s Mmmunchy Krunchy Apple Farm each year, they discover a “wonderful sensory overload for all things fall in the best sort of way,” exclaimed Dana Hefele, co-owner of Knaebe’s Apple Farm. Since taking over the family business four years ago, owners Andy and Dana Hefele have continued the long-time tradition of creating magical fall memories for the Rogers City community—and for apple lovers from around the state.
“We are one of the only apple orchards on the northeast side of Michigan,” said Dana. “So our patrons come from all over. They keep coming back and even bring their friends to sample our amazing donuts, drink cider, wander through our corn maze and, of course, pick and buy apples!”
Knaebe’s Apple Farm began almost accidentally for Andy’s stepfather, Ed “Doc” Knaebe, and his wife, Dusty. In 1982, after practicing dentistry in Kalamazoo, Doc returned to his roots in Rogers City with Dusty and their two boys, Andy and Joe Hefele, where they bought 120 acres of land and Doc settled into work as a full-time dentist.
“Doc has always enjoyed science and nature,” said Dana, “but his one true love is tax deductions!” In 1985, Doc purchased a tractor to putz around his farm and soon learned that if he planted a crop, his tractor would be tax deductible.
“And just like that—an apple farmer was born,” laughed Dana.
After planting a variety of apple trees and transforming Knaebe Apple Farm into a well-respected orchard, Doc retired from dentistry to farm full time in 1996. Business grew and Doc and Dusty managed farm operations for nearly another 20 years.
Meanwhile, Andy and Dana were busy raising a young son and working in their own careers (that had nothing to do with farming) when Doc and Dusty made plans to retire. It was then that Andy knew if he didn’t take over the family business or at least “give it a try,” he would live to regret it.
“Andy and I jumped in with both feet and never looked back,” Dana said.
When Andy and Dana took over the farm in 2015, more than 40 varieties of apples were being harvested from about 5,000 trees, including several heirloom varieties, which “turned out to be great for making hard cider.” Andy’s foray into hard cider production led to the birth of Twisted Roots, a café and bar known for wood-fired pizza (topped with vegetables grown on the farm), and about a dozen varieties of hard cider.
Since Twisted Roots debuted in 2016, production has more than tripled. Andy enjoys coming up with new hard cider options, like cinnamon vanilla or bourbon peach. “We weren’t sure if hard cider would be a ‘thing’ in our community,” Dana admitted. “But it turns out a lot of people love it! And the pizzas are a perfect pairing!”
Today, the 60-member staff at Knaebe’s Apple Farm works hard to provide an apple orchard experience that Michiganders of all ages can enjoy. The staff bakes and stocks fall staples like apple pies, apple crisp, their famous BAM donut—and, of course, old-fashioned apple cider.
“Fall hits you when you walk into Knaebe’s,” concluded Dana. “You see fall. You smell fall. You taste fall. From learning the proper way to pick an apple to thumbing through a cookbook at the gift shop, Knaebe’s is a place where you leave feeling happier than when you arrived and wholeheartedly ready to embrace the season.”
Follow the farm on Facebook and visit mmmunchykrunchyapplefarm.com.
Here’s The Scoop
Fall fun at Knaebe’s Mmmunchy Krunchy Apple Farm is both affordable and entertaining. This year, the farm opens August 29 and runs every Thursday—Sunday until November 3. Knaebe’s Farm does not charge a fee for admission or parking, and their playground, farm animals and corn maze are always free. For extra weekend fun, check out these family-friendly activities available (weather permitting) every Saturday and Sunday:
- Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides through the orchard ($4 per person)
- Pony Rides ($4 per child)
- Barrel Train Ride ($2 per child)
- Mac an’ Squasher Apple Slingshot ($2 for 12 shots)
- It’s always free to visit the farm animals. Just pay a small fee to feed them.