Whether it's a place to meet with friends or a family outing to pick your own fruit, this welcoming spot tucked away in Woodstock is ideal for a visit.
I don’t know the Young family very well, but whenever I stop by Woodstock Orchards, I always feel like I’m being welcomed as an old friend. The folks working at the Bakery and Apple Barns always have a smile and draw you into friendly conversation. Each interaction with Donna is like picking up where I left off with my favorite aunt. Running into Doug (her husband) or Eric (their son) is a breath of fresh air with their calm gentle approach to each person. That’s because the center of their efforts at the orchard is to create a space that reflects their joy as a family working together to bring delicious homegrown food to the community.
For many folks visiting, a pick your own farm is the quintessential family outing, and the Youngs, through their warmth, make it a perfect place for just such an activity. Plenty of us have fond memories as kids running between rows of trees and reaching for that apple that is just beyond our grasp. For some kids, this is their first (or perhaps only!) exposure to farms growing local food. But I imagine that if you’ve been to Woodstock Orchards to pick-your-own fruit, you’ve been more than once.
Woodstock Orchards isn’t limited to just apples, however. They also grow a wide array of veggies, have pick your own blueberries, pumpkins, mums and if it wasn’t for the hard frost many of our orchards suffered this last February, they’d be selling peaches too! All of these products you can find as they come into season in their Apple Barn, but also, are often transformed into delicious goodies at their newer Bakery Barn that serves delicious treats using their (and other local farms’) products.
The orchard hasn’t always been like this however, it took Doug and Eric’s persistence and vision to bring it to the vibrant place it is now. Originally, the property was purchased and started by Harold Bishop, Doug’s step-father (of the Bishop family orchards in Guilford), who wanted to make a place of his own.
Little by little Harold transformed the land into a thriving orchard, but when Doug started working with him full time, he invested his time and energy into increasing production and diversifying what the farm brought to community. He brought greenhouses to the farm to increase the length of their growing season, started growing mums to sell, and introduce more varieties of fruit and veggies to the farm. When his son Eric and his wife came back to the farm, they brought their excitement for growth too. They saw the extra ways their products could be utilized, by bringing in baked goods like delicious donuts and mile high apple pie.
But with all these improvements and changes, many things stayed the same as well. When you walk into the bakery barn you’ll see a sign from the 60’s when the orchard first opened
advertising the apple. They still press their cider in a traditional press using the pressure
of planks and screws. They sort apples by hand, and bring a personalized touch to all they do and produce.
When you go to visit the Youngs and their orchard, you’ll step back behind the barns and take in the view of a rolling hill that represents all the care that the Youngs have put into their land. And when you’re observing the tended trees and fields, remember that this is not just a location to get the fruit, veggies, and treats that the Youngs love to share, but it is also a labor of love- reflected in the green of each leaf, in the ripening of each fruit, and the joy of handing something to you that they have cultivated with their time and labor. It is their gift to you, and we are so glad they offer it to our community.