Anyone who travels south past the intersection of Lackey Road and Key Peninsula Highway has seen the large Dudley Top Farm Apples sign, but probably few will know of the man behind this business, for nestled in a remote portion of the Peninsula is the sprawling 124 acres on which Dr. Kyle Chapman and his wife, Addy, reside.
Purchased by his family in 1908 from the original homestead in 1865 that was centered at Herron Point, his land sits adjacent to the homestead parcel, and an aerial photo of his property still reveals the old logging road and narrow gauge railway used by Puget Mill Co. that transported logs from the southern peninsula to Vaughn Bay.
But beyond being obviously devoted to his wife of 49 years —whom he knew for 19 years before they were wed, since the age of 11— Kyle Chapman has dedicated his life to other passions.
A graduate of Northwestern University Medical School in 1950, Dr. Chapman is a general, thoracic, and vascular surgeon, who at the age of 78 is still practicing medicine. From 1954 to 1956 while stationed in France with the U.S. Air Force, he worked as an obstetrician and delivered 720 babies in 20 months. In addition to practicing at Northwest Hospital in Seattle two days a week he also has a complete medical facility, attached to his home, where he performs minor surgeries on a regular basis and still accepts new patients covered by Medicare and some other insurance companies.
But his passion doesn’t stop there.
“We wanted to have a productive farm,” he said. “Our land was deemed a Class 4 timber farm, which meant it was not worth replanting in timber, so we chose apples.”
Of their 124 acres, 13 are apple orchards, consisting of 3,500 trees representing 25 varieties of apples. “In good years we can produce 25,000 pounds of apples,” he said, “but a bad year may only yield 200 pounds. This year was especially bad because of the last cold spring we had. It didn’t get much over 50 degrees. The Mason Bees don’t become active until it reaches 53-54 degrees, while the honeybees don’t become active until 59-60 degrees. So pollination was very poor for this year’s crop.”
Chapman also speaks negatively of the ever-increasing regulations over the past years that ultimately made it impossible for smaller orchardists to stay in business. “There are so many regulations about spraying, agricultural update courses that were scheduled on a very limited basis, record keeping, marked and limited entrances after spraying, that it made way too much work to stay in business,” he said. “It’s just another classic case of bureaucracy run amok.”
Today the apples are used mainly for juice and cooking. The continuous restraints by the state have curtailed his dream to continue his orchards on a commercial basis.
The Chapmans also have llamas, sheep, and Welsh Ponies on their farm.
While in the Air Force in Europe, Chapman visited England and discovered that his grandfather and his wife’s grandfather had both been baptized in the Dudley Top Church—thus the name of his farm, Dudley Top.
“It was a very special place to both of us and we thought the name and how it was connected to both our families would continue with our farm,” he said.
Shelves in Dr. Chapman’s office are packed with Bibles of all languages in the world. “When I have a patient from another country I always give them a Bible in their native language,” he said. “When Addy and I were going to get engaged, I told her I had a passion for the beach and the sea. ‘That’s OK,’ she said. ‘It’s not another woman, so that’s fine.’”
Many passions for a quiet, down-to-earth compassionate individual who has and continues to help others. And much more to a story than what you would expect from a billboard boasting of apples.