"Reality is no longer a liberal concept but is the exclusive domain of the radical fringe."
We are the Gougeon family. Our orchard is just a few acres, the site of an old orchard going back more than 100 years. About half of the existing orchard was planted on the land of Melinda and Richard Gougeon about 25 years ago by a local apple grower. The orchard eventually fell out of use, not being large enough on its own to be viable on a traditional commercial scale, and too large for Lindy and Rich (without growing experience) to deal with as a "home" orchard. In 2005 Lindy and Rich's son Steve, his wife Jen Williams and their sons Aidan and Elliot, bought Rich and Lindy's house and put a second family addition on it, putting three generations on the property.
Already growing a lot of our own food, and interested in small scale sustainable growing, we started into the world of growing "organic" apples. Since then, with a lot of reading, seminars, apple grower meetings, conversations with other growers, pruning, thinning, bug identification, spraying, pruning and more thinning, we are now starting to get good crops of apples from the orchard once again, and are able to offer them for sale. And with 20+ year history in home-brewing and fermenting hard cider, and an interest in selling it, we don’t need to have the best looking apples if a lot of them are going into to the tank. This takes a lot of pressure of as far as worrying about whether the fruit is good enough looking.
At this point the future of the orchard looks good. We have taken out many diseased and damaged trees. In 2007 we started adding more new trees to balance out the types of apples we will have during the season, for fresh eating and for making hard cider.
In 2008 we grafted cuttings from existing trees onto new rootstock, and in 2010 we started planting those new trees to fill in gaps (from dead trees) in rows with the same variety. We are also adding more new varieties for eating and hard cider (Wealthy, Esopus Spitzenburg, Golden Russet, Williams Pride, Baldwin, Cox Orange Pippin, Fameuse, Frostbite, Dabbinet, Chisel Jersey, Ashmeads Kernel, Kingston Black, Harrison, Redfield, Howes, Henry's Yellow Russet, Rowe Crab, and interesting wild seedlings, and some of our own we have found and propagated…), and we continue to add new trees almost every year.
At this point the orchard is too small to provide our entire income, so we do have off-farm jobs as well. Steve is a cabinetmaker specializing in cabinetry and furniture under the guise of Apple Valley Woodworking. Jen is an adjunct faculty member at a local college teaching biology.
Please check out our How we grow section.
Steve, Aidan, Watermelon, Elliot, and Jen, 2013