History Sidebar

I think it was in 1991. It was after the fall of the Soviet Union. There were reports of food shortages in Russia. We decided to donate a container load of apples to Russia, which was distributed in St. Petersburg by a Christian missionary group. Most of the load was donated by us, but Hess Bros. and Bream and El Vista donated about 100 boxes each. My kids made the sign.

Rice Fruit History

Seven Generations Of Innovation
And Dedication

Rice Fruit Company is a family business that was founded in 1913 by Arthur Rice, Sr. But the origins of the company go back much further. Around 1790, Daniel Rice, the first member of the Rice family to settle in Adams County, Pennsylvania, arrived as a young German immigrant. Although he was a general farmer like his neighbors, he recognized that the scenic foothills of the South Mountain, the eastern-most ridge of the Appalachians, had ideal soils and a perfect climate for growing many kinds of fruit. Soon apples would become one of his most important crops.

For another four generations, the Rice family continued to plant orchards as the reputation of Adams County fruit began to spread across the country. In 1913, Arthur Rice built his first packing house in Biglerville, 8 miles north of historic Gettysburg. Through the 1920's and 1930's, his company shipped apples all over the country, as well as overseas. Along with his brother, John, Arthur Rice started another company to distribute packaging supplies to fruit packers around the country. This company, called Rice, Trew, and Rice, was sold to Inland Container in 1954.

The next year, Arthur Rice, Jr., whose father died when he was a young man, built a new packing facility at the company's present location at Gardners, five miles north of Biglerville in the center of Pennsylvania's famous fruit belt. Arthur Rice, Jr. also formed a partnership with one of the finest fruit growers in the county, William Lott, to form R&L Orchards, which grew most of the fruit packed by Rice Fruit Company. The partnership between the Rice and Lott families continues today.

Today, Rice Fruit Company is managed by Arthur Jr's four sons, the third generation to run the company, and the 7th generation to grow apples in Adams County. David Rice is the president, in charge of plant operations and personnel. Ted Rice (Arthur Rice III) is in charge of office operations and accounting. John Rice is responsible for sales and marketing. Mark Rice is president of R&L Orchard Company, which grows about a thousand acres of apples, peaches, nectarines, and pears.

Rice Fruit Company today is the largest fresh apple packing facility east of the Mississippi. Besides the fruit grown by R&L Orchards, the company packs fruit for about 75 other fruit-growing families, mostly in Adams County, but some from as far away as Virginia and New York. The company packs fruit year-round, using 18 controlled atmosphere storage rooms. In the spring and summer months, it also stores and repacks fruit from the southern hemisphere.

The company and its owners have received many industry awards. It has been the subject of numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Today it carries on the traditions of honesty, integrity, and dedication to quality that were carefully passed down from one generation to the next. And the company continues to invest and innovate to make sure that this tradition will be passed on to future generations as well.