Art at the orchard

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Village lets local artisans display their wares

By John Barnhart

Gross’ Orchard now features an artists’ village.


    It’s just down the road from the orchard’s sales area and signs point you to it. Ronnie Gross, who along with his father, Walter Gross, run the orchard said that they started construction in June. It consists of some small buildings providing sheltered spaces for local artists to display and sell their work. There is also space where tents can be set up.
    It’s called “Artists’ Village by the Stream.”
    “They’re making things down there on Saturdays,” Gross said.
    It opened in July and four artists are currently working there. Gross hopes to recruit more. He has space for up to 20. This includes potters. Gross said that electricity is available, with enough juice to run a kiln.
    “It’s such a nice setting by the stream,” Gross said. “It’s so natural.”
    Gross said that he got the idea from seeing similar artists’ villages in other states. He believes that his artists’ village will grow and would like to see more set up in other parts of the county. He said that there is enough local talent to fill them.
    Another feature of the artists’ village is a natural amphitheater, located behind the village and across the stream. Gross currently has 75 seats set up there and plans to eventually max out at 300 seats. Generic Folk, a local band, is scheduled to perform there on Sept. 11. Gross said that people interested in more information on the concert should call (540) 874-4749.
    Gross will also use the amphitheater for a course he teaches in the Master Gardeners program. Gross is a fifth generation orchardist who has worked in the family orchard full time for 30 years. He teaches fruit tree pruning. The class takes place on Nov. 2 and includes a walk to the orchard’s test plot, located nearby, where Gross demonstrates what he’s taught.
    Ronnie Gross serves as a member of the county’s agriculture board. Members of the board are appointed by the board of supervisors and each district has a representative. The board’s Web site has a link from the county’s Web site. You can find a link to the county’s site, and other local Web sites at www.bedfordbulletin.com.