Cold Spring Orchard is an education and research facility of UMass Amherst and grows over 100 varieties of apples on 50 acres of land. They offer “pick-your-own” apples and also sell a variety of goods including peaches, honey, apple cider, jams, jellies, grapes, blueberries, pears, squash, and pumpkins. They always have between 15 and 20 different varieties of apples available to choose from. They even offer bags of “seconds” to decrease their waste at a discounted price. Cold Spring Orchard also sells some of the best apple cider around. They decrease the amount apples they throw away by using their imperfect fruit to make their cider. Additionally, it is always made with at least 6 different varieties of apples, giving it a unique, rich flavor. They are located only 14 miles from campus in Belchertown, MA with a beautiful view of the Mt. Holyoke Range.
Many fruit growing operations will spray their entire orchard with pesticides even if only a portion of them are being impacted by pests. Shawn and his workers also take care of about 15 beehives every year. Because pesticides are particularly harmful to bee populations, and the Cold Spring Orchard team closely monitor the health of the bees and are sure to avoid pesticides and practices that will harm their hives.
Shawn is very passionate and takes pride in the work that he does. He shared, “It is really rewarding to grow something and sell it to someone. It feels like I am doing something with my life, like I have a purpose.” It is clear from interacting with Shawn that he cares deeply about the Amherst community, all of his customers and employees, and about the orchard’s impact on the earth. Kristen and Jim are two of the people Shawn works the most closely with. He explained the Cold Spring team are all like a big family. He added that, “I'm just one person and I do a lot, but there are a lot of people behind me that might not get the credit and those people deserve it as much as me.”
Shawn urges everyone who wants to make a difference in their local community to support their local businesses. He explains that, “sometimes things might cost a little more around here, and it's just because there are more challenges to grow those things, but you are getting something a lot fresher, something that is more valuable.” Most fruits and vegetables in the United States travel more miles to reach the grocery store than the average american does in a year. Buying locally not only supports local farmers like Shawn and their sustainable practices, but it also decreases the fossil fuel emissions burned to get them to you.
Cold Spring Orchard apples are served in all four dining commons until at least December each year. To learn more about Cold Spring Orchard and meet Shawn McIntire, come to UMass Dining’s apple week! The event is from 6:00-9:00pm in Hampshire on November 8th and Franklin on November 9th.
Thanks so much, Shawn for working with us, and for your time!
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