Between weekend showers, the Rev. Larry Biller stood at the edge of Kercher’s Sunrise Orchards and prayed for rain.
He meant throughout the summer and it was just one of the ways he and about 20 people from St. James Episcopal Church blessed the blossoms all around him near the farm market at 19498 C.R. 38, Goshen.
He also blessed the Kercher family, whose fifth generation is now operating the agriculture business. Tom Kercher, a member of the fourth generation with his sister Janet Dudley, held his grandchild Abraham Blough, who along with two cousins is part of the sixth generation.
Biller sprinkled holy water on just one of the many trees in the orchard. There were prayers, a poem and a song as well. He blessed the trees, but also the Kercher family for their work in the community.
The orchard was once the largest in Indiana and 75 to 80 acres of apple trees and more than 500 acres of land for growing vegetables are in production, Tom said. Each fall, his wife Maureen oversees speaking to school groups and running events. “You can see the love of Christ in her eyes and in her heart,” Biller said.
The springtime blessing was started again four or five years ago after a hiatus, but St. James parishioners have been going to the Kercher orchard for at least 60 or 70 years, Biller said. “Let’s get God helping us,” he said.
Does praying for good weather and a big crop make a difference? “It does,” said Tom.
So far, the blossoms look good, though the cooler temperatures have kept the bees less active when they’re needed to help pollinate. “The potential is there,” Tom said.