Sky Top started as a curiosity that grew into a business experiment and quickly became a family affair. Today, David and Lindsey Butler run Sky Top as a full-time business. As any farmer can tell you, we are working up here even in the months when the "open" sign is taking a vacation.
Back in the late 1960s, Everette Butler (David's father) purchased a home in Flat Rock. Everette had fallen in love with this area when he began bringing David and his other children to summer camp each year. When Everette purchased his land, it only had a few apple trees on it. Though he hadn't intended to operate an orchard, it wasn't long before he began exploring the idea of farming apples. After much research and help from an extension agent, Mt. McAlpine's 70 to 80 acres were soon full of apple trees and thus began the Sky Top commercial apple farm which sold exclusively to area supermarkets.
In college in Florida, David was soon summoned to help out with the new family venture and eventually transferred to USC in Columbia to be closer to the farm. David met Lindsey in college and soon she was in the apple business too.
Though we opened the orchard originally as a commercial wholesale orchard, we decided it didn't feel right to pick apples prior to ripeness just so they'd travel better to the market so we converted our orchard to u-pick. Now, we don't open areas for picking until we've tested for sugar content and made sure apples are at peak perfection.
To make a visit to the orchard more fun for guests, we added picnic tables and shelters so families could spend time with each other enjoying autumn breezes and the fruits of the season. Later, we added an apple house and pumpkin house for kids to explore and when everyone wanted more, we added hayrides. And who knew that apple cider doughnuts would be such a hit? Though we add more machines every year, word-of-mouth keeps us hopping on busy weekends and planning for more growth the following season.