Barney and Christiana Hodges, second-generation farmers, are passionate about growing apples. You can taste their care and dedication in Five Acre Farms Local Apple Juice, pressed from a blend of their exceptionally flavorful apples in the fall of 2013.
The Hodges family has owned and operated Sunrise Orchards, a 200-acre apple farm located in the heart of the Champlain Valley, since Barney’s parents bought it in 1974. Barney grew up on the farm and trained as a geologist before becoming an orchardist. Today Barney and Chris live on the farm with their three children in a house they built themselves. (Barney drew up the plans on the back of a paper bag.)
Sunrise Orchards grows several apple varieties including McIntosh, Empire, Cortland, Honeycrisp, Paula Red, Macoun, Red Delicious and Granny Smith. Apple trees love the farm’s heavy soils, composed mostly of Vergennes Clay and Nullis Stony Loam, which hold moisture and nutrients. They also thrive in Vermont’s climate, with its hot summers and cool, sun-filled autumns that redden the fruit during its final stages of growth.
Barney and Chris are as much land stewards as apple growers. They follow the Eco-Apple protocol developed by Red Tomato and integrated pest management (IPM) to ward off pests and disease. They closely monitor their trees, precipitation and temperature, mow fallen leaves after harvest to chop up apple scab spores on dead leaves and prune all winter to encourage air flow, light and healthy growth. The result: the amazing Sunrise Orchard apple, known for its taste and quality, and healthy soil and water for the good of the farm’s employees, neighbors and surrounding community.
To learn more, listen to this radio interview with Barney and Chris, where they describe in their own words Sunrise Orchards and their vision and plans for their business.
Migliorelli Farm, a family-run fruit and vegetable farm in Northern Dutchess County in New York’s Hudson Valley, grows and presses the apples to make Five Acre Farms Local Apple Cider. Their vegetables grow in prime agricultural soils just miles from the eastern banks of the Hudson River. The clean, well-tended fields contribute a great deal to the view shed and the agricultural character of the community.
The Farm’s roots reach back to 1933, when Angelo and Rocco Migliorelli started peddling vegetables by horse and cart around the Bronx. Run today by its third and fourth generations, Migliorelli Farm grows more than 130 different varieties of fruits and vegetables, including the same strain of broccoli raab that Angelo brought with him when he immigrated to New York from the Lazio region of Italy.
The Migliorellis press their apple cider on a vertical Palmer Brothers cider press using just the right combination of the best available varieties. (At nearly 80 years old, their 2000-pound press is considered an antique.) The cider is UV-treated, meaning that it passes by an ultraviolet light that kills harmful bacteria while preserving vitamins and flavor. This FDA-approved process is as safe as pasteurization.
The Farm employs sustainable farming practices that promote food safety, freshness and flavor, cultivate healthy soil and preserve open space. In caring for their land, their trees and their fruit, the Migliorellis use a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system. They are committed to minimizing the use of fossil fuels.
In 1998, Ken Migliorelli sold all of the Farm’s development rights to protect the land through a Scenic Hudson conservation easement, ensuring that it remains farmland forever.
The Stearns family knows good milk. They have been producing and bottling the freshest, highest-quality milk on their farm in Northeastern Connecticut for more than 140 years.
Jim Stearns, a sixth-generation dairy farmer, oversees the Mountain Dairy Creamery. Along with its own herd, mainly Holsteins and a few Jerseys, Mountain Dairy processes milk for three other small neighboring farms. They grow their own hay and corn for feed and recycle their cows’ manure — using it to replenish nutrients in the soil. They never give their cows artificial growth hormones or preventive antibiotics.
Five Acre Farms is proud to partner with farmers in the Northeast who use sustainable practices and adhere to higher standards for animal treatment, preserving farmland and protecting groundwater.
Maple Meadow Farm produces Five Acre Farms Local Eggs from content, cage free hens. Established in 1946, Maple Meadow is a small egg farm owned and run by George and Jackie Devoid and their family. They are hands-on managers who put their hens first.
George and Jackie, second-generation farmers, along with their children Jen and Niles and members of their extended family, treat their hens with extra special care. They feed their flock of Rhode Island Reds ground oyster shells for extra calcium to produce stronger shells and healthier eggs. They never give their hens any hormones or preventive antibiotics.
The Devoids are particularly proud of their state-of-the-art cage free barn. Here, the hens have free run of the climate-controlled barn with comfortable nesting boxes that are dimly lit to create an inviting, stress-free environment for laying eggs. All of Maple Meadow’s facilities surpass strict rules for cleanliness and food safety.
The Devoids and Five Acre Farms share an understanding of the value of careful animal husbandry and the importance of investing in systems that produce clean, fresh food. Five Acre Farms is committed to seeing the third generation.
Kinderhook, New York
In identifying the best apple growers in the Northeast, our first stop was Samascott Orchards, which supplied the apples for the first runs of Five Acre Farms Local Apple Sauce and Local Apple Juice. The Samascott family has been farming since the 1900’s and perfecting apples since the 1940’s.
Today Bryan and Jake, 4th generation farmers, along with their siblings and cousins, tend to 100 fertile acres of apple trees and grow 60 varieties, picked when they are perfectly ripe. Continually improving their selection, they plant new and heirloom varieties to produce the most flavorful, best-tasting apples. Each year they replace about five percent of their trees, selecting new varieties based mainly on taste. Five Acre Farms partners with farmers whose sustainable practices help preserve farmland and protect groundwater. The Samascotts monitor their orchards closely and use a number of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices. They grow disease-resistant varieties to reduce the need for spraying and prune frequently to ensure that their trees get plenty of sunlight to thwart pests and disease. When they turn over an orchard block, they use the old trees to heat their greenhouses, and they grow pumpkins or strawberries for several years to recondition the soil.
Meet Don and Seth McEachron, fourth-and fifth-generation farmers who are the proprietors of Battenkill Valley Creamery in Salem, New York. In 2010, Seth and Don won Cornell’s top prize for milk for being the highest quality, freshest and best-tasting milk in New York State.
The McEachron family has been dairy farming in the Battenkill Valley region of upstate New York for more than a century. Seth’s great-great grandfather began milking cows in 1902, and his grandfather moved the farm to its current location in 1945. Since then, the farm has grown steadily from 12 cows to a herd of 350 cows today.
Five Acre Farms partners with dairy farmers in the Northeast who adhere to sustainable farming practices, meaning that they have higher standards around animal treatment, preserving farmland and protecting groundwater.
Seth and Don grow their own feed and recycle manure to use as fertilizer. They use a mixed breed herd – made up of Holsteins, Jerseys and Holstein-Jersey crossbreeds – for higher calcium counts.
Bill Suhr and Andrea Scott (and their young son Rupert) grow the apples used to make Five Acre Farms Local Apple Cider. They cultivate more than 50 apple varieties in their 130-acre orchard on the shores of Lake Champlain, where rich glacial soils and the northern climate make their apples particularly flavorful.
In everything they do, Bill and Andrea place a premium on growing practices that have a minimal impact on the environment, sharing Five Acre Farms’ dedication to preserving farmland and protecting groundwater. They follow Integrated Pest Management (IPM) guidelines, the leading approach to managing pests while minimizing environmental impacts. They actively monitor their trees year-round to reduce the use of pesticides while relying more on non-synthetic fertilizers. They’re experimenting with organic apples in three orchard blocks, using disease-resistant strains developed by land-grant schools. To reduce their carbon footprint, they’re installing two fields of solar panels to meet the farm’s electrical energy needs.
Champlain Orchards is the oldest continuously operating orchard in Vermont. Five Acre Farms is committed to continuing this tradition.