Cold Spring Orchard is a research and education facility of UMass Amherst located just 14 miles from campus. They have more than 100 varieties of apples and a gorgeous view of the Holyoke Mountain Range. Cold Spring Orchard sells products like honey, cider, peaches, pumpkins, and all kinds of jam to the local community. They also offer informational school tours for ages ranging from kindergartners to high school and vocational school students.
UMass Dining sourced about $70,000 worth of apples from Cold Spring Orchard in the fiscal year 2016. Our Chefs incorporate these apples into recipes like Apple Cheddar Walnut Salad, Apple Glazed BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Baked Apple Cinnamon French Toast, and Apple Walnut Wild Rice. Cold Spring Orchard apples were also featured in all four dining commons from October 12th to 22nd during Apple Week.
We spoke to Shawn McIntire, the Farm Superintendent for Cold Spring Orchard, to learn more about their operation. Shawn has been with Cold Spring Orchard for 22 years. “I have been here so long it feels like a part of me.” He works with professors on research, manages the wholesale and retail accounts, and works with students. “You name it, I do it.” Shawn loves farming because he is “always doing something different. Every month is a new task and adventure. I think I have one of the coolest jobs you can do. I find it very rewarding."
Shawn explained how Cold Spring Orchard practices Integrated Pest Management, which focuses on the long-term prevention of pests, uses pesticides selectively, and minimizes risks to human health and the environment. Instead of spraying acres of land with pesticides, Cold Spring Orchard monitors each acre individually, measuring the level of pests in each area and spraying only the acres where pests reach a high enough threshold. Shawn spends around six hours a week monitoring acres for pests.
This has been the toughest year Shawn has ever had working at Cold Spring Orchard. Because of cold temperatures this winter and spring, they lost their peach crop and about 50% of their apples. Additionally, because of the drought, another 10-15% of their apple crop was lost to premature dropping.
“I think too often, people have no idea the energy, dedication, hard work, and a love for the land it takes to grow locally sourced food. By making these connections with local farms, people are able to see first hand how hard farm workers work and the pride we feel in supplying our communities with healthy and responsibly grown food.” -Shawn McIntire
Thanks so much, Shawn for taking the time to speak with us!
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