Fall at Westwind Orchard
Recently, a friend gave us a great tip for fall fruit-- head to New York and visit Westwind Orchard. Nestled into the Hudson Valley, Westwind is a 32-acre organic orchard and farm owned by a stylish couple-- fashion editor Laura Ferrara and photographer Fabio Chizzola (who took the beautiful photos above). When they bought Westwind in 2002, the pair searched unsuccessfully for a farmer to revive the orchard. So Fabio dug into organic farming and they decided to take on the project themselves. Since then, they've worked tirelessly to restore their historic orchard, pruning the decades-old trees, building beehives, and growing a remarkable variety of certified organic fruits and vegetables. At the height of harvest season, Laura and Fabio took a break to chat with us about fall at Westwind.
terrain: It's a busy season for you at Westwind-- what's happening at the orchard these days?
Laura & Fabio: We're harvesting some of our favorite crops-- apples and berries. Because we had a very cold winter followed by a lot of rain, our apple crop is on the smaller side this year and we haven't been able to offer pick-your-own, but we're still picking plenty of apples for our visitors to enjoy. Our crop of organic berries, however, is incredible. We send many to restaurants in NYC, but there are plenty for visitors to pick on their own, too. We're also harvesting onions, garlic, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and honey.
Every year, it's our goal to introduce some new products at the orchard store, where we sell our produce as well as our own honey, maple syrup, jams, apple sauce, and even kindling, plus some local and fair trade products we love. This year, we're making cider vinegars using our apples; we've got a variety flavored with our raspberries, and one with our honey. We're also making chocolates and gelato with our raspberries and pumpkins! Finally, we're making pizzas now; both of us are from Italy, so we built a wood fired oven at the orchard and serve Neopolitan pizza with organic toppings from the farm.
terrain: What are some of your favorite apple varieties?
Fabio: I love two of our newest varieties-- Crimson Crisp and Goldrush. They're both very sweet and crisp, with a fresh flavor that balances tart and sweet.
Laura: My favorites are some of our heirlooms: Stayman, Spartan, and Ida Red. We pick them from 60-year-old trees that had been dormant for a long time; I like to think that they're happy apples, since the trees have been revived. They remind me of an era that doesn't exist anymore-- the names, the unique flavors, and the sense of nostalgia that someone planted those trees so long ago.
terrain: What are some of the most challenging parts of owning an orchard? The most rewarding?
Laura & Fabio: Being certified organic is a big challenge-- organic apple orchards are rare, especially in the Northeast, because we have to contend with lots of humidity, rain, and insect pressure. It's so rewarding, however, when we open our doors to the public in the fall and get to share in the excitement of visitors who come back each year.
terrain: What do you look forward to most during fall at Westwind? When is the best time to visit?
Laura & Fabio: We look forward to enjoying the beauty of nature that the season brings; the best time to visit Westwind is mid-September through the end of October. The changing seasons are so visceral-- breathing in the crisp air and seeing the changing colors of the leaves and sky. It's also great to welcome our wonderful visitors to the farm. We meet so many people who appreciate good food, organic growing, and the lifestyle of a healthy Earth.
Images courtesy of Fabio Chizzola/Westwind Orchard.
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You had me at apples and berries...but I have a weakness for Neapolitan pizza--is there any other type worth eating? Wishing you many, many more happy apples and of course pizza.