The oldest trees at Stone Ridge Orchard are a stand of old apple trees, clustered around a majestic oak at the top of a hill. The classic varieties– McIntosh, Cortland, Golden Delicious, and Stayman– are a testament to a two hundred year history of apple growing on this beautiful farm in upstate New York.
Tucked away in the Rondout river valley between the Shawangunk and Catskill Mtns., the continuous production of top quality apples is what the folks at Stone Ridge call “fair proof” that the mountain climate is perfect for raising produce. Many things have changed over two centuries in the orchards here, and the combination of deep history and modern ideas are part of the unique charm.
In the mid-70s, many of the old trees were replaced by modern varieties planted on smaller, semi-dwarf rootstock. In 2000, another 1000 trees were added to the orchard, on fully-dwarf rootstock that allows even denser planting per acre. Varieties including HoneyCrisp, Gala, Ginger Gold, Macoun and Fuji were added to old favorites. Today, the orchard contains many other fruit trees– sweet cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums and Asian pears-as well as berries, pumpkins and melons. But apples remain the centerpiece, watched over by the weathered stand of ancestors on the hilltop.
In 2008, the owners of Stone Ridge approached their neighbor, Elizabeth Ryan of Breezy Hill Orchard about taking over the management of their orchard. The partnership turned out to be a good fit and the orchard is known today as Breezy Hill at Stone Ridge. Stone Ridge has a strong commitment to ecologically friendly methods, and a longstanding appreciation for the complementary approaches of organic and IPM methods.