The land that is now Stone Ridge Orchard has been a productive, diversified farm for nearly two hundred years. Tucked away in the Rondout river valley between the Shawangunk and Catskill Mountains, we raise a wide variety of sustainably-grown gourmet fruits and vegetables. Two centuries of farming apples as well as many other crops is fair proof that our Catskill mountain climate provides the perfect conditions for creating the high quality farm-fresh fruits and vegetables you can't find just anywhere. Many people believe that we grow the best pick-your-own apples in the Hudson Valley.
Though Stone Ridge Orchard has changed enormously since apples were first planted on our scenic acreage, there's still a sense here of times gone by. Clustered around a majestic oak tree at the top of a hill are a small stand of apple trees. They're the oldest trees on the farm and all classic cultivars: McIntosh, Cortland, Golden Delicious, and Stayman. They've seen a lot of history from their perch. If only they could speak!
Current orcharding styles are very different from when these trees were young. By the mid-1970s, much of the orchard had been replanted to newer apple varieties on smaller, semi-dwarfing rootstocks. This change in growing style let us produce fruit that was bigger, sweeter, redder, and easier to harvest than ever before.
The orchard's next big change came in 2000, with the planting of over a thousand gourmet apple trees, featuring varieties such as HoneyCrisp, Gala, Ginger Gold, Macoun, and Fujis. These trees were densely planted on fully dwarfing rootstocks allowing each apple to achieve peak flavor and crispness. You see, apple farming is simply the art & science of harvesting sunlight.
Over the past four years we've taken yet another big step by diversifying beyond the apple world and planting sweet cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, and Asian pears—fruits that had never even been grown here before. We also added small fruits like strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, red, yellow, and black raspberries, arctic kiwis, and even pumpkins and melons to the menu, making Stone Ridge Orchard a veritable encyclopedia of culinary delight.
In 2008, Elizabeth Ryan of Breezy Hill Orchard took over management of the orchard at Stone Ridge. Since then, Elizabeth has taken great care to give the trees the care they need to produce flavorful, high-quality fruit. In 2009, Breezy Hill Orchard and Stone Ridge Orchard were both certified as Eco Apple by the northeast-based organizaton Red Tomato. Eco Apples means that all of the apples produced from both orchards are certified low spray, as well as indicating the fair trade and fair labor practices of the business. Breezy Hill Orchard sells fruit from Stone Ridge Orchard, as well as a large line of artisan baked goods and cider, at more than 20 farmers' markets in New York.
Although not everything we grow is available for pick-your-own, all of our fruit can be purchased at our fruit stand. But like all farmers, we work with the rhythms of the crops, and when a fruit or vegetable is sold out, we'll all just have to wait until next year for more of it. It's the natural dictate of the growing season, which is just the way things should be.
See you at the orchard this season!