IT'S APPLE SEASON, AND THERE'S A NEW WAY TO GET SOME OF THE LOCAL BOUNTY
Under the Tree Farm's fruit stand on Middaugh Road in Brooktondale has opened with fresh, local apples.
What began in 2011 as a small 22 tree homestead orchard has become a passionate adventure in growing premium fruit and reclaiming abandoned farmland for Scott and Crystal Van Gaasbeck. They currently care for over 2,200 trees on 9 acres – over 60 varieties of apples, pears, peaches, cherries, plums, apricots, persimmons - plus blueberries and vegetables. Scott and Crystal are excited to share their passion for farming with their community, and have opened a self-serve farmstand on Middaugh Road in Brooktondale. Visit their farm stand every day from dawn 'til dusk for fresh, local apples this year and other fruit in years to come.
You may recognize Scott and Crystal from the Ithaca Farmers Market, where you can find them each weekend selling their hand thrown stoneware and fine leather goods. Scott has been a full-time potter selling at the Farmers Market since 1998. The addition of the farm is the fulfillment of their dream of a balanced, land-based livelihood as artist farmers.
The Van Gaasbecks see themselves as stewards of their land for the next generation. Their method is to farm soil, and their goal is to improve rather than deplete the local ecosystem. They are faced with the task of replenishing soil that was cropped and grazed heavily through the first half of the 20th century. Terracing, pond building, cover cropping, and mulching are used to capture water and nutrients in the soil, and create a diverse farm ecosystem.
“Our fertile little corner of the world has the potential to provide both good healthy food and a sustainable livelihood for farmers, while preserving the beautiful tapestry of small farms that has created the landscape that makes this such a wonderful place to live. As Tompkins County becomes more developed, more like anyplace else, working farms like ours can be cornerstones of sustainability, and my goal as a farmer is to provide that community connection to the land. It's a win-win, we help sustain our neighbors and they sustain us while our community becomes more rich and beautiful.” says Scott.
“Local fruit should not be a luxury good. It shouldn't have to cost more than fruit you buy the grocery store; it should be accessible to everyone. It is our mission as farmers to develop tools and practices to farm efficiently so our food can be affordably priced. We believe in abundance. We believe everyone should eat more fruit, it makes life better.” says Crystal.
For local apples, visit the Under the Tree farmstand on Middaugh Road in Brooktondale. You will also find their fruit alongside their pottery and leather at the Ithaca Farmers Market, Saturdays from 9-3 and Sundays from 10-3. Under the Tree Farm will be at the Brooktondale Community Center Apple Festival, Saturday October 21, from 10-3.