For any of you who have a small garden, or just a nice lawn, you know the challenges we are all facing as far as the lack of adequate rain is concerned. Essex County is one of 2 counties in Massachusetts under extreme drought conditions at this time. Cider Hill Farm has about 70 acres of fruits and vegetables under cultivation, all of which needs water.
The northern fields areas have access to limited amounts of water from a deep well we have installed years ago, as do the southern fields and greenhouses from another well we installed nearly 35 years ago. Some areas have lots of water we pipe all around the main farm lower fields and hillside where we grow most of our apples and peaches. This water is pumped from the big pond you see on the flats. All this takes quite a bit of time but we are grateful we have systems and water to keep us going in such difficult conditions.
We are in the late days of July now, a time of the season when peaches, plums and nectarines would normally start to ripen up and be available in the store and for pick your own. Another challenge we are facing this year, as most of you know, is that this entire crop was frozen out back in February when temperatures reached 14 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. This is not an isolated hardship, but one shared by pretty much every stone fruit orchard in New England, so we will just dream of how amazing they will be to have next year!
Fortunately, our small fruits have been fantastic, including the blueberries which are in full production now, and the apple crop is shaping up nicely with most of our 70 plus varieties sizing well for the late summer/fall crop.
Karen and I have been on this farm journey for 35 years now, guiding the growth of Cider Hill Farm from a blank slate to a plot of land and business that feeds the stomachs and souls of countless families from our surrounding community. We are blessed to be part of something so special as we are surrounded by the most amazing crew that loves this farm as we do so that we can bring you the best food day in and day out.