Grower Spotlight
Chelan Fresh is proud to represent the growers of Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties in Washington State. Meet one of the growers who make our beloved SugarBee® apple available for you to enjoy.
Meet the Growers

The SugarBee® apple was created on a sunny spring day when an industrious bee carried pollen from an unknown variety and landed on a Honeycrisp tree and the SugarBee® apple was born. Grower Chuck Nystrom noticed the branch in his orchard as it produced a beautiful bi-colored apple that was crisp, sweet and juicy. The growers at Chelan Fresh agreed with Mr. Nystom and made the decision to grow the SugarBee® apple.

Many of our SugarBee® growers are part of 3rd and 4th generation families who are passionate about growing high quality apples, pears and cherries. They are committed to best agriculture and business practices so that their families can continue to farm for future generations.

One of these growers is Harold Schell, who manages variety development to determine what new varieties will be friendly to grow, harvest, pack, and also have consumer appeal. Harold has been lovingly nick-named the “Manny”of SugarBee® apples, as he applies over 40 years of experience to nurture new varieties such as the  SugarBee®.

Jeff LaPorte and his family are proud growers of SugarBee® and honeycrisp apples on their acreage. Jeff also works to advise many of our growers on best growing practices to produce high quality Chelan Fresh fruit.

Mark Stennes is a 4th generation grower and his family has farming roots that date back to the early 1900’s. The Stennes family is committed to create opportunities for future family members to become part of the family operation by growing a variety of apples, cherries and pears using both conventional and organic practices.

Tom Riggan was born into an agriculture family and followed his knowledge of apples, pears & cherries to working in sales and management. Tom rarely misses an opportunity to get out in the orchard and stay connected with the crops. He spends his remaining free time attending kids’ activities and long distance bike riding.

Jim Colbert brings 35 years of experience in Horticulture and pest management to his current position as Organic Program & Packaging manager at Chelan Fruit. His 3rd generation grower roots keep him passionate about spending time in his family orchard and when he can break away, he enjoys snow and waterskiing.

Dave Robison
We caught up with Dave to find out what he’s been up to and what he loves about his work.
Sugarbee Lake Chelan Apples

Chelan Fresh is proud to represent the growers of Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties in Washington State. Check in regularly to hear about what’s happening out in the orchards that produce some of Washington’s Finest Mountain Grown SugarBee® apples.

Chelan Fresh (CF): Hi Dave, could you please tell us a little bit about you and your orchard?
Dave Robison (DR): Sure, I’d be happy to. I am a third generation farmer and have been farming since 1982. Our home place is at 25 mile creek on Lake Chelan, but we also farm north of Chelan on Howard Flats. We have 120 acres in total. 

CF: What varieties of fruit do you grow?
DR: We grow pears: Bartlett’s, D’Anjou, Bosc, as well apples: Gala, Honeycrisp, Envy, Jazz, and SugarBee®. We also grow cherries.

CF: What do you love about your work? What challenges do you face
DR: We as small farmers wear all the hats. I know some guys love the shop and mechanics, while others enjoy growing trees. Personally, I like interacting with people. For me, the most challenging part of the business is keeping up with the changing agriculture trends and regulations.

CF: What is your favorite fruit?
DR: It’s a close call, but my favorite has got to be the new SugarBee® apple.

CF: Can you share a recipe with us?
DR: No need for a recipe. The best way to eat a SugarBee® is right off the tree!