Coston grew up in apple industry

David Coston’s contributions to the apple industry and his skill in growing apples were praised at a Southeast Apple Growers Convention a few years back.
Coston was named the Southeast Apple Grower of the Year.
Coston grew up in the apple industry, working in the orchards of his father, Frank.
“Growing apples is all he’s done his entire life,” Coston said of his father. “His grandfather had a small orchard.”
Coston said his father began moving full-time into the apple industry in the 1950s.
“I’ve always liked the business,” Coston said. “I grew up thinking that growing apples was the only thing I wanted to do. I grew up in it and developed a love for it.”
Coston, a 1970 graduate of the former Edneyville High School, majored in horticulture at N.C. State University in Raleigh to prepare him for continuing the family business.
When Coston began working in the apple business with his father, the orchards totaled about 70 acres, he said. Now Coston Farms has about 140 acres in apple trees.
“The apple business was good for several years,” he said. “Now it’s getting tough.”
Starting about 1997, plants that bought processing and juice apples from county growers began shutting down, Coston said.
“Gerber closed, then the National Fruit plant closed, then Seneca quit running fresh apples,” Coston said. “The Greer, S.C., plant closed. Everybody quit buying and running apples in this area.”
About 15 to 20 years ago, county apple growers had markets for their processing and juice apples. Without a reliable outlet to buy process and juice apples, the apple business is risky, he said.
Coston said he hopes the market will turn around.
“It’s still based on supply and demand,” he said.
Coston Farms has moved more into packed fruit and direct sales, Coston said.
“We’re just trying to increase sales as much as we can,” he said.
Coston and his wife, Lola, added crafts, apple butter, jellies and a few baked goods to their direct market outlet store on U.S. 64 East. They keep the store open until Christmas.
“We work a lot of extra hours trying to keep the store open,” Coston said. “The entire family pitches in and helps us.”
Coston said he intends to stay in the apple business as long as possible.
“I would hate to see houses all over the hill where we farmed all those years,” he said.