In the 1880’s and 1890’s and into the early 1900’s, the apple industry in the San Juan Islands was a mainstay of the local economy. At North Beach both the homesteader, Al Hill, and the Orcas Island Fruit Company had many acres devoted to fruit production. A wide variety of apples were grown on the property including; Gravensteins, Kings, Greenings, 20-ounce, and Banana Apple. Additionally Bartlett and Winter pears along with Queen Anne and Ranier cherries were grown. Today the original apple Packing House, likely built in the 1880’s, still stands at the south end of the old apple orchard.
For some years after the family purchased the property in 1911, the Gibson brothers continued to market the Orcas Island apples as a staple of the North Beach Farm’s income. However, this gradually came to an end around the 1930’s when improvements in irrigation made Eastern Washington a more attractive fruit growing region. Later, during the Depression, many of the fruit trees were removed as part of a government program to reduce surplus agricultural production. Although the market for island grown apples is not what it used to be, many of the original fruit trees still stand in the fields today and can still produce a fine crop of heritage fruit.