As Rose Hill Farm continues to grow and evolve, we thought we would share some of our thoughts and memories with you. The Fraleigh family owned and operated Rose Hill Farm since 1798 when Peter Fraleigh first purchased land in Red Hook, NY. They started as subsistence farmers and as the world grew and changed, so did Rose Hill Farm. Five generations later, we took over management of the farm from my parents in January 1979. During our tenure we made substantial changes to adapt to changing markets and consumer demands. We transitioned the majority of the orchard to newer varieties on dwarf rootstocks to improve productivity, we purchased additional land to expand, we installed a water conserving trickle irrigation system to be better stewards of water resources, we planted other tree fruit and berries to diversify our crops and we did all that we could to take advantage of our proximity to New York City and increase direct to consumer sales. During our tenure here, we always did what we thought was best to ensure the sustainability of our family farm.
None of our four children, the seventh generation of Fraleighs to live at Rose Hill Farm, were interested in continuing the family business. After many discussions between our family members, we made the heart wrenching decision to end our tenure on the farm and retire after the 2015 season. Holly and Bruce Brittain, along with their uncle, Chris Belardi, took over operation of Rose Hill Farm. It was a bittersweet departure. On the one hand, we were sad to leave behind our family farm, on the other hand, we were incredibly thankful that the new family running the farm shared our vision for Rose Hill Farm and that they planned to continue the pick-your-own business that enables many to share in experiencing what a special place Rose Hill is.
Since Bruce, Holly and Chris took over, they have convincingly managed Rose Hill Farm and continue to seek our guidance and support as they learn the business and make changes, just as we did, that are necessary to ensure Rose Hill Farm continues to thrive and grow. Among many other things, they installed a deer exclusion fence to protect the trees in the orchard, they improved the farm stand, they replaced a storage garage, and most recently, they rebuilt the obsolete main barn into a hard cider production facility and tasting room to open in 2019. Their updates have consistently focused on maintaining the character of Rose Hill Farm. Karen and I would have loved to do all these things had we been able. In addition to improvements in infrastructure, Bruce, Holly and Chris have decided to transition their orchard management practices with the goal of being certified organic once the transition is complete. Like changes that Karen and I implemented in orchard management practices, their shift to organic reflects demands from Rose Hill’s customers as well as a philosophical goal of growing fruit with as few synthetic inputs as possible.
Karen and I are excited to see Rose Hill reinvigorated with the energy and vision that Holly, Bruce and Chris have. We regard them as family and will continue to make our frequent visits to help guide this beautiful transition.
Dave and Karen Fraleigh