Boyd Orchards in Woodford County has been sold to a southern Illinois family business, Eckert’s Orchards. The sale price for the land was $1.75 million, according to a deed in the Woodford County clerk’s office. The sale price for the business is still undisclosed.
Terry Boyd, 68, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he wanted to sell the 60-acre property on Pinckard Pike “because I’ve gotten old and tired. That’s the short answer.”
Boyd and his wife, Susie, moved from southern Illinois when they bought Claude Kaenzig’s orchard south of Versailles in 2003. They added a store, a playground and a café, and in the fall they were a destination for hayrides, a corn maze and various festivals. But homegrown fruits and vegetables are the mainstay of the business, which includes rows of apple, peach and pear trees, fields of berries and acres of pumpkins.
“My wife has some health issues,” Boyd said. “An opportunity came along with the Eckerts and I just felt like we shouldn’t let that opportunity go by. I wanted to do it, but it’s bittersweet because we love what we do, we love that farm and we love Lexington and Versailles. ... Our customer base was special and was like no other that we had when we were in Illinois.”
The Boyd and the Eckert families have known each other for years. Before moving to Kentucky, Boyd said he bought a 250-acre apple orchard from the Eckerts in the early 1980s.
“Now they’ve purchased from me, so it’s kind of come full circle,” Boyd said.
Chris Eckert, a seventh-generation farm owner and president of Eckert’s, in Belleville, Ill., said his father and Boyd were part of a cooperative that built a processing plant in Illinois where apples were sliced and frozen for bakeries and other institutional purposes. That plant is no longer in operation.
The Boyd transaction came about “through conversation with mutual friends, and we found out that Terry and Susie were considering selling the farm,” Eckert said. “Through a mutual friend, we got connected and talking about a purchase agreement. That was October or November 2015.”
The Woodford business will be called Eckert’s Boyd Orchard, but Chris Eckert said he doesn’t plan to make any significant changes. “If there is one change I could foresee is bringing more homegrown peaches into Woodford County and Lexington immediately,” he said.
Eckert’s Orchards retail operations started in 1910 as a roadside stand and got into the pick-your-own business in the 1960s. The company has 1,200 acres, 600 of which are used to grow fruits and vegetables. The company has a restaurant, a garden center and a country store in Belleville that carries fresh produce, home-baked goods, fresh meats and gourmet cheeses. The Eckert family also operates orchards and general stores in Millstadt and Grafton, Ill., and a farm market in St. Louis.
“Probably the growth strategy for us is to move out into different regions because I don’t know that we can grow a lot more in the St. Louis market,” Chris Eckert said.
In the meantime, Boyd said, he plans to do a lot of scuba diving in the Florida Keys. “I’m going to try to enjoy some time and get rid of the pressure and weight that’s there when you’re trying to host 180,000 people a year and 10,000 people a weekend. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with that.”