When I sat down with Nicole Pappas Stanoch at a favorite Northeast Minneapolis brewery to interview her about her blossoming, apple-centric business, Bad Apple Mini Urban Orchards, I knew it was going to be a good conversation. She's the type of person who knows A LOT, about EVERYTHING, and has a contagious sense of enthusiasm for it all. We'd been talking for a good ten minutes about everything from the time she accidentally stole gas in France to her love of edible landscaping before she takes a breath to say, "Wait, aren't you going to take notes or something?" I'd completely forgotten to start recording our conversation in the wake of her lively entrance.
So Nicole. How did she get into apples? The answer, suprisingly enough: wine. "I love wine," Nicole explains. "I mean, I really love wine, and I love how, in order to make it, you have to grow something and turn it into something else. That whole process got me interested in horticulture." Nicole took a few classes in the University of Minnesota's Masters of Horticulture program a few years back, and became inspired to implement an mini orchard business model based on the skills she'd learned. She wanted to turn empty spaces into orchards, and then turn the apples into brandy.
Nicole currently owns two small plots of land with trees in Northern Wisconsin, and 18 smaller sites in Northeast Minneapolis where she plants the apple trees, tends to them, harvests the fruit, and hands it off to 45th Parallel Distillery to turn the fruits of her labor into brandy.
"I plant on anything from city-commissioned spaces to people's personal backyards. People get excited about my business and are like, 'we want apple trees, we want apples trees,' and I tell them we'll find a way to make it work." She's currently looking into purchasing several empty lots in North Minneapolis.
Nicole started Bad Apple in 2015. She's expecting her first batch of brandy to be done in about 8 months--it's currently aging in barrels. When it's finished, Nicole will give some of the final product back to each land-owner who hired her to plant trees, and 45th Parallel will sell the rest. She's seen her business double in size from the year she started.
"It's not a complicated model," states Nicole, and then continues on to remind home gardeners of the world to "never use compost that's not done composting! If it still smells, it's not dirt yet and shouldn't be used!" And on with her endless wisdom...
If you're interested in learning more about Nicole's business (and maybe getting a tree or two planted on your land!), check out her Facebook page or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned to Forward Eats MSP's Facebook page for news about an upcoming event to hang out with Nicole and support Bad Apple Mini Urban Orchards.