Long gone are the days where the hills and dales of New York’s Hudson River Valley were bursting with majestic apple trees and the scent of ripening fruit. Though many of those orchards may be gone, there is a quiet renaissance going on all around us. A renaissance that is bringing life to new orchards and old traditions. There is one place not too far from you where the magic lives all year round.
Westwind Orchard is an historic apple orchard located in New York’s Hudson River Valley in the shadow of the Catskill Mountains. It has a story that starts in the 1930s when it was first planted by Chester Khon. The orchard was tended and farmed by Mr. Khon for 40 years or so before it was purchased by the Schoonmaker family of Accord. Westwind is the original name of the orchard, and we are proud we kept it.
In 2002, the Chizzola family bought the property with dreams of fresh air and country living. Well, we’re here to tell you it has not been easy and it’s certainly still a work in progress, but in 2016 we’ll add a few more pieces to the puzzle and focus our optimism on the coming year. When I first started out, everyone thought I was totally crazy. Well, after nearly a decade of reviving the farm and orchard, I have to agree, I WAS CRAZY, but not totally.
Westwind Orchard is more than just a hobby or avocation; it is a passion and a dream. One that I pursue daily with the same vigor and intensity with which I pursued rock-climbing (a little hobby of mine that first brought me to this part of New York) so long ago. Today, Westwind Orchard stands for more than just local, organic apples. We are a vision for local farming and the future of our region.
In 2005 we began renovating the orchards by clearing brush, reviving older trees, taking out dead ones, and planting new ones….all in anticipation of one day having a modern, organic orchard and farm. Then we got Honeybees, and are blessed to have 40,000 “free” workers to pollinate our trees and flowers. Then we built a deer fence, so we could keep those beautiful but disruptive creatures away from our trees. And finally, we started to diversify our orchard with new apple trees. But not just apples….we also planted pears, plums, cherries, paw paws, berries, garlic, winter squash, and grapes. The picture was becoming clearer. In 2008 we achieved our biggest accomplishment by becoming a Certified Organic farm!
Today, we make maple syrup, jams, apple sauce, honey, and raise chickens for eggs. Last year, we added a wood-fired pizza oven and planted more orchards – we’re like the bees, always busy. This year we’ll offer for the first time ever our very own, hard cider made with from our own apples and fermented in the wilds of Accord.
We are a Holistic Community Orchard and only use ecologically sensitive products like neem oil, Effective Microbes (EM), seaweed, kelp and compost teas to help us grow healthier soil, trees, fruits and vegetables. We strongly believe in LOCAL FOOD and in OUR COMMUNITY. Everyone needs farms (and farmers!), but more importantly they need good, wholesome, healthy food—what better place to get all that than right here. The Chizzola family hopes you’ll come visit Westwind Orchard soon. Come see what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and mostly enjoy the fruits of our labor, from us to you.