ISSUE 48  |  The Rural Life

Fishkill Apple Orchards: A Family Farm Goes Sustainable

November 30, 2012 6:00 PM

BY Alexa Hotz

You've probably heard of McIntosh, Golden Delicious, and Pink Lady apples, but what about Cox's Orange Pippin or Esopus Spitzenberg? These are some of the rare heirloom apples grown at Fishkill Farms in Dutchess County, New York.

Owned by the Morgenthau family for just under 100 years, Fishkill Farms has transformed over the generations from a conventional American apple orchard to a diversified farm with environmental stewardship on the forefront of the agenda. Today the farm is run by third-generation farmer Josh Morgenthau, who has maintained Fishkill's identity as a "u-pick" apple orchard. Morgenthau and his farmers oversee 40 acres of apples, 15 acres of mixed vegetables, 15 acres of summer fruits, more than 400 pasture-raised chickens, and a flock of sheep. The farm uses such sustainable farming methods as seasonal crop rotation, alternating between annual and cover crops; growing pesticide-free vegetables and berries under NOFA's 'Farmer's Pledge" program, and managing five of the 15 acres of apples with organic methods.

Recently, photographer Nicole Franzen visited Fishkill for a selection of apple varieties and summer fruit sold at a nearby farmer's market.

Photographs by Nicole Franzen.

Above: A farmhouse nearby; In the spring of 2009 Fishkill's historic barn, packing shed, and cold storage were all lost to a fire, but the Morgenthau family was able to rebuild the pole barn a year later. The new barn will have an apple cold storage room, machinery workshop, vegetable and fruit packing facilities, and a cider room.

Above: McIntosh apples in an orchard full of 15 different varieties.

Above: The farm's resident flock of pasture-raised sheep.

Above: A pear tree dropping fruit in the harvest months.

Above: Golden Delicious apples.

Above: Franzen's picnic of sliced Golden Delicious apples, just picked from the tree above.

Above: Apples for sale at a local farmers' market; in addition to filling orders for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, Fishkill Farms sells at markets in Dutchess County and in New York City.

Above: White peaches, plums and pears at a nearby farmer's market.

Above: Organic plums grown in the Hudson Valley.

N.B.: Looking for more farms like this one? See 143 other Garden Visits.