FAF_Web_SO_Header Samascott Orchards
FAF_Web_SO_Header Samascott Orchards

Hudson Valley Mainstay

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Perfecting Apple Flavor, Boosting the Local Economy

Five Acre Farms’ search for the best apple growers in the Northeast started with Samascott Orchards. The Samascotts supplied the apples for the first runs of our Local Apple Sauce and Local Apple Juice and has been a source of our Local Apple Cider from the start.

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Left: Freshly picked Keepsakes. Right: Jake Samascott.

The Samascott family has been farming since the 1900’s and perfecting apples since the 1940’s. In its early days, the Samascotts’ 180-acre farm was typical of the time. While many crops were grown there, the primary interest was dairy. In the 1940’s, ‘50’s and ‘60’s, second-generation owner Oliver Samascott expanded the farm to its current 1,000 acres. Much of the new land he acquired was already blanketed with apple orchards, and by 1970, the farm had shifted its focus from dairy to apples. In the 1970’s, the Samascotts offered five different varieties of apples.

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Left: A wind machine pulls down warm air to protect against frost. Right: The Samascott men: Jake, Ron, Gary and Bryan.

Fast forward to today, when Oliver’s grandchildren keep the farm humming. Cousins Jake and Bryan Samascott, fourth-generation farmers, alongside their respective siblings grow more than 70 apple varieties, picked when they are perfectly ripe.

Continually improving their apple selection, the Samascotts 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.

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Clockwise from Left: Ron leading the way on a quick inspection. Keepsakes ready for picking. Sampling the season’s first harvest.

In addition to tending 100 fertile acres of apple trees, they grow hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables. Their cider is made on a press that Jake and Bryan’s grandfather acquired with a farm he purchased in the 1950’s. It’s the only press they have ever known.

Five Acre Farms partners with farmers whose sustainable practices help preserve farmland, protect groundwater and conserve energy. For the Samascotts, this means monitoring their orchards closely and using a number of IPM—short for Integrated Pest Management—practices.

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Clockwise from Left: Jake and his trusty sidekick Mutsu surveying for ripeness. Working the ciderpress. The colors of harvest.

They grow disease-resistant varieties to reduce the need for spraying. They use trellises and prune frequently to make sure that their trees get plenty of air and sunlight, thwarting pests and disease and creating the ideal conditions for ripening. To ensure a hefty haul at harvest time, they maintain 20 hives of Mason Bees and Honeybees to pollinate their orchards at the start of the season. When they turn over an orchard block, they use the old trees to heat their greenhouses with an old wood boiler and grow pumpkins or strawberries for several years to recondition the soil.

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Clockwise from Left: Sorting cider apples for the press, Bryan Samascott among the young SnapDragon trees. Produce being sorted for market.

The Samascott Family’s farm and strong ties to the local community have made them integral to the local economy. They create jobs not only on the farm itself, where the same seasonal workers return year after year to live on the farm with their own families, but also at the farm store and nearby Samascott’s Garden Market.

The Samascotts have also helped enhance the diversity and reach of the Kinderhook Farmers Market, inviting other area farmers to sell at the market on Saturday mornings. From the first Saturday in November until Christmas, the Farmers Market comes indoors—to the greenhouse at the Garden Market, where the Samascotts host 14 farms for the Farmers Market’s winter season.