A Walk Through the Past, or a Glimpse of the Future?

Some of us have worked at the farm for 10.. 15… even 20+ years. Yet there’s always more to learn about this piece of land, which has history dating back to the 1700’s built into its stone walls, as well as new history being made each and every day through new additions to the soil. The beauty of a new season, as we witnessed this past weekend with the perfect first-day-of-spring weather, is a fresh perspective. Even when our surroundings remain similar day-to-day, we have the opportunity to view them under a new light each spring, bringing a renewed sense of wonder about, and appreciation for, the sights we often take for granted.

Many of you came to the farm this weekend to try our new, first of its kind, self-guided walking tour around the perimeter of the farm. It was great to get outside and explore the old landmarks that make our farm special. Who knew the farm store was once a barn for meat rabbits during the Great Depression, or that if you look closely, you can still see the damaged tree trunks from a deadly 1938 hurricane?

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Q: How old were you when you started working for the family business?

A: Age 13; paid $1.85/hour.

Q: What was your first job in the family business?

A: Grading and sorting apples

Q: Who or what inspired you to go into the business?

A: The opportunity to carry on a family tradition and legacy for future generations.

Q: What would you have done if you didn’t go into the business?

A: Work in foreign country leveraging multilingual and multicultural competencies.

Q: What is your long-term goal for the business?

A: To ensure farm enterprise is sustainable, viable and relevant for future generations.

Some stops along the tour highlighted modern advancements. The wind turbine, trellised apple trees, irrigation ponds, and renovated barns are as integral to our identity as the 100-year-old McIntosh tree. Preserving the past paradoxically necessitates adopting forward-thinking practices. When Spaulding Rose propped up his trees after the devastating 1938 hurricane, only to discover mice had chewed through the rotting trunks, he resorted to a (then) new practice of grafting in order to save his beloved Red Gravensteins. Similarly, the original Johnny Appleseed Rambo apples we still grow would not exist if not for grafting, a practice that Johnny Appleseed himself ironically opposed. Each one of the stops on our walking tour provides a snapshot of one aspect of our farm, whether it’s a site that existed 300 years ago, or a tree that won’t start fruiting until 3 years from now. From a bird’s eye view, all these snapshots comprise a sustainable and holistic enterprise.

Thankfully, farming forces us to take the bird’s eye view, even during times when it’s hard not to get caught up in temporary hurdles. Just as Spaulding Rose’s desperate efforts preserved heirloom apple varieties that we continue to harvest 80 years later, we know that the projects we undertook during this pandemic will bear fruit for future generations, both literally and figuratively. This walking tour was one, and stay tuned for more! Spoiler: you won’t have to wait long to reap the rewards of a certain new flower variety we planted for this summer!

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About the Author

Allen Esrock is the Founder of NxtGen Nexus. Prior to that he started Jitter Fingers, the first safe, social networking website for tween girls and their bffs. They were Jitter Finger clubs in 12+ countries and 250+ cities in the US.

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