Cold Spring Orchard

Cold Spring Orchard’s beautiful apples. 

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.  

Shawn McIntire is the Farm Manager of Cold Spring Orchard, and has been for more than 7 years. Shawn’s favorite part about the job is getting to teach visitors and employees everything that he knows. Shawn insists that he is “not the kind of boss that is going to sit inside behind a desk, I’d rather be right out there with you.” He argues that “education is our best defense” against climate change and other threats to our environment. Cold Spring Orchard offers tours for schools and is a research and education facility of UMass Amherst. They are dedicated to sustainability in their everyday practices and in the research that goes on there as well. 
 Cold Spring Orchard uses integrated pest management (IPM) to use pesticides sparingly to control the insects and diseases on their apple trees in a sustainable way. Shawn spends at least 4 hours every Sunday patrolling the orchard for pests and deciding which sections of trees need to be sprayed.  
Picture Shawn McIntire, Farm Manager of Cold Spring Orchard. 

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. 

Bins of multiple varieties of Cold Spring Orchard apples available at their farm store. 

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.