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Meet the vendor: Trails West Farms

Meet the vendor: Trails West Farms
Posted on 07/03/2019
Lile Merrill of Trails West FarmLile and Quill Merrill both grew up on farms. Quill was raised in Montana on a cattle and dairy farm, while Lile grew up on a farm in Tonga — a group of islands in the South Pacific — that grew avocado, watermelon, pineapple, papaya, oranges, bananas, coconut and breadfruit.

Twelve years ago, their love for farming led to the purchase of an orchard in Eudora, Kansas. Quill has a degree in sustainable agriculture. Today they are both employed full-time, but they come home to work on their Trails West Farms orchard at the end of each day. 

When they first bought the orchard, Lile and Quill thought they would have plenty of fruit for themselves and to share with friends. They soon realized they had far too much fruit, which is why they now sell at local farmers markets. 

Trails West Farms orchard contains more than 200 trees. Lile and Quill grow apricots, cherries, pears (seven varieties), apples (30 varieties), peaches, plums and wild blackberries. The small Bubblegum Plum is Lile’s favorite. This year’s wet spring made it difficult to get get things done earlier, and the weather has been especially hard on their peach crop. 

The long harvest carries on into the fall. And though Lile wishes it could end sooner, harvesting the fruit each year is still her favorite part of the orchard. Her least favorite tasks, on the other hand, are pruning and thinning the trees each year. She also prefers the dwarf trees because they do not require a ladder to harvest the fruit from the tree. 

Prior to owning the orchard, Lile said that she loved to run marathons, camp, hike, quilt and crochet, but the orchard takes up all of her spare time these days.

Look for fresh local fruit at the Trails West Farms vendor booth on Saturdays at the Lenexa Farmers Market.