Our last two weekends of pick-your-own were busy and fun, with lots of visitors to enjoy the beautiful fall weather, hard cider tastings, and apple picking. As usual, we had a booth at the Ashfield Fall Festival, selling sweet cider and apples, in addition to U-pick, cider tastings, and farmstand here at the farm. We also attended the Riverside Blues & BBQ beer and cider tasting in Greenfield that weekend. We got to work picking what was left following Columbus Day weekend, and did our first hard cider pressing into our new big tanks. Now the apple trees in our orchard are empty, the ground underneath cleaned up, and we have taken a break from pressing to insulate the new building. We received our second grant from the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources for this project; the first allowed us to begin the project, and this one is focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy. If all goes well we should have the building back together for Cider Days weekend November 1 and 2, with the walls insulated and possibly a heating system in place. Hopefully by the new year we will have expanded our photovoltaic system to cover the heating needs of the new space, maintaining our home and businesses as net-zero.
As many of you who visit here know, we are blessed to have family with fantastic work ethic and a desire to take part in the orchard. Jen’s parents have been on hand to greet and help out when we are open, and they also pitch in with picking and orchard cleanup all season. Steve’s mom makes all the donuts, makes all the incredible jams and jellies, and keeps us fed every weekend. Steve’s dad is a constant presence in the orchard, pruning, mowing, picking, pressing, as well as pitching in to do hard cider tastings and help folks in the orchard when we are open. Steve’s brother pitched in with the building this summer, and staffed the tasting in Greenfield on Columbus Day weekend with Steve’s dad, since Steve and Jen were already staffing two locations. Our sons are also practicing customer service and retail sales, and we hope they can take on bigger roles as they get bigger and older. We are grateful to have such support, as we would not be able to do the work we’ve done without their help.