Welcome to Apex Orchards! Apex has been owned and cared for by the same family for seven generations. Abner Peck Sr., of the first generation of growers, arrived in Shelburne, MA from Lyme, CT in 1828 and purchased the land which is now known as Apex Orchards. He was a soldier in the American Revolutionary War and his ancestors arrived in the United States in 1634.
The farm was originally a diversified farm as was typical for the era. The family raised cattle, sheep, horses and pigs. All of the fodder for the livestock was grown on the farm as were vegetables and apples for the family. Most of what was produced on the farm was used by the family. A small amount of meat, apples and dairy products were sold.
Tim's great-grandfather, Austin L. Peck, added on a dairy operation and a large flock of chickens. The family sold both cream and eggs in the area. His grandfather, Lyndon Peck,didn't care much for dairying and he converted the farm to the orchards that we know today. The last dairy cows were sold in 1946 and the name of the farm was changed to Apex Orchards. The name was inspired because the orchard sits at the apex of a hill with a beautiful view where we grow spectacular fruit.
Tim's parents continued expansion of the farm. Apex Orchards was originally a wholesale apple orchard selling apples across America and Europe. In the late 1990’s we moved into retail and have been supported by the help of our wonderful customers. In 2011 we purchased an additional 175 acres of land just up the road from our farm. This was part of the original Peck family farm from 1828 and we are glad to have it back in the family. It will give us and future generations the land to diversify and expand the farm.
Today Apex Orchards grows a wide array of tree fruits, including apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, quince, pears, Asian pears, blueberries, table grapes and kiwi. We plan on adding additional fruit in the future. We pride ourselves in the diversity of fruit that we sell. We think you’ll be impressed too! Our fruit is sold in stores throughout the local area, at farmers markets (including the Amherst Farmers' Market) and of course, right here at our farm store.
Western Massachusetts is without a doubt one of the top fruit growing regions in the world. The soil, the micro-climate, and the varieties all combine to give our customers the best tasting fruit possible. Among the Amherst Market regulars, Apex Orchards may be best known for one thing: apricots. When the apricots come in, people will be lining up at Apex’s stand, eager for this year’s crop of the soft, delicate fruit. Tim Smith, the owner of Apex Orchards, agrees that the apricots are special. “A lot of people have never tasted a fresh apricot,” he observes, noting that Apex is one of the only farms in the Pioneer Valley that grows the fruit. The farm also sells honey under the label “Shelburne Honey Company,” and even grows a small variety of kiwis
Of course apricots are not Apex’s only crop, and despite the palpable excitement at the farmers’ market when the apricots are introduced, customers also regularly enjoy Apex’s other offerings. Apex grows many varieties of peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, and apples, along with grapes and blueberries.
Apex uses integrated pest management (IPM) techniques. We believe in using sustainable business practices in our operation of the farm. We have solar panels on the farm too. Our farm has been supplying the finest farm fresh produce since 1828, and that tradition continues today. We have pick your own areas available in the fall in an orchard with one of the most spectacular views in New England.
Our retail store is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm from August through April. From mid-September until the end of October we offer pick your own apples in our scenic orchard. A farm visit is a terrific family event and we also often hold in store events. You’ll find our family and staff to be welcoming and helpful, including offering up tips and recipes for preparing fruit and storage.
Come see us Saturday at the Amherst Farmers' Market and say "hello!"
When seeking out the perfect, worth-every-calorie brownie, one needs to transcend the cake-ish dull flavor of so many brownie offerings and get right to the chewy edges and dense, decadent middle of a made-from-scratch brownie. Dawn Lepere, Owner, Baker and Creative Director of Round The Corner Brownie Company, has found a way to distill brownie goodness to its very essence.
Dawn relocated to Amherst with her husband and daughter 7 years ago. Although she quickly fell in love with the area, her new situation presented a frustrating dilemma on the job front. Her wish to be available as a mother while also providing additional income for her family resulted in stints at part-time jobs. Grateful for the work, but feeling like there must be something more satisfying, she considered a series of ideas for creative projects. Meanwhile, Dawn helped with fundraisers at her daughter's elementary school, and these experiences demonstrated an undeniable fact: people love baked goods. With this inspiration, Dawn set to work on a plan to focus her creative impulse on the culinary arts.
The trick was finding a niche in the vast world of baked goods. Brownies quickly rose to the top of the list as they were already a family favorite and seemed to provide a versatile platform for a variety of delicious flavors. Dawn spent 8 months test baking some of her “core” flavors, and additional flavors are offered seasonally. You can experience the results of her labors in offerings such as Chocolate Chip Brownies, Mocha White Chocolate Chip Brownies, Chocolate Raspberry Brownies and Flour-less Brownies.
It seemed to Dawn that the next obvious step was to create a line of "Blondies," which are similar to brownies except that they are made with a blond batter. You can think of them as deep dish cookies. Dawn tweaked the ingredients and baking time until they achieved the same dense and chewy inside texture as her brownies while remaining golden brown and crunchy on the outside. They are served up in decadent flavors such as Butterscotch, Peanut Butter, Toasted Pecan/White Chocolate and Caramelized White Chocolate.
For those who need to avoid gluten, Dawn has created a line of gluten-free brownies that are virtually indistinguishable from her traditionally baked collection. The gluten-free varieties include Flourless Chocolate Brownies, Caramelized White Chocolate Blondies and Peanut Butter Blondies.
Dawn has also answered the many requests from the vegan community by creating two delicious vegan AND gluten free options; a Chocolate Chip Blondie and a Chocolate Brownie Cake.
Looking to create interest in her indulgent treats, Dawn has proudly become part of the Amherst Farmers’ Market and brings most flavors with her each Saturday. Dawn also provides private baking and catering, so please feel free to stop by and talk to her about her ideas - including mini frosted brownies and chocolate dipped brownie bites - for your next gathering!
Dawn and her brownies have appeared on Mass Appeal, been featured in the food section of The Hampshire Gazette and been showcased on Brittany Murphy's Buzz Around Town on Western Mass News.
Maybe you didn’t know you were looking for the perfect, mouth watering, brownie or blondie masterpiece, but now you know where to find it!
Fungi Ally was started by Willie Crosby. He went to UMass' Stockbridge School of Agriculture for Turfgrass' Managment. After several years in the golf course industry he decided to shift gears into an area of (excuse the pun) organic interest; food production. After interning at Simple Gifts Farm in North Amherst and working mainly as the primary weed destroyer and general crew member, the experience gave way to a new path. Thoroughly enjoying the experience of being in this community and working to produce food, a new destiny was formed, but, at the same time, I experienced what hard work it was! So he schemed up a way to work less, play more, and produce pounds and pounds of mushrooms. In the long run it was a total FAIL in meeting those above objectives! Mushroom farming is just as much hard work as vegetable production, but, on balance, equally rewarding in offering our community high quality mushrooms and seeing my interest come to fruition.
Originally my idea was to grow mushrooms outdoors on logs, so with the help of community member Bill Cooley we inoculated 400 shiitake logs. We then waited and waited and waited for a full year until the mushrooms were ready to fruit. I thought what a brilliant way to farm! But in the meantime I learned more and more about indoor cultivation from workshops in Washington State and an Internship I served in Nevada at the largest medicinal mushroom grower in the country. After these experiences I dove into the world of indoor mushroom cultivation. Few years roll by and now we have a 2500 square foot warehouse growing about 300 pounds per week AND selling ready to fruit blocks to commercial mushroom growers throughout Massachusetts and New York.
Our mission is to create a world of balance and connection by revealing the power of mushrooms. We primarily work with edible fungi but also offer medicinal extracts and are experimenting with the possibility of Mycoremediation. The farm is located at 311 River Dr. in Hadley, MA and currently has 4 full-time farmers.
This is now the third year Fungi Ally has been participating at the Amherst Farmers Market! We have evolved the products we offer beyond mushrooms and have expanded the species we are growing. We also offer a CSA that can be picked up at the Amherst market. Saturdays when we aren't at market we enjoy hiking in the Skinner State park, Kayaking on the Connecticut and connecting with friends and family.
Stop by and visit!
Sam Sherer lives and works in Orange, Massachusetts, making bowls from local wood — cherry, walnut, maple, and birch, hand-turning them on a lathe. As a 'second' career, Sam has been turning bowls, large and small, for about 5 years. He learned his craft on Vashon Island in Washington State, mentored by friends - David, Jim, and Curt.
Looking out his window in June 2007, awaiting a laminectomy for an L 4/5 disc in need of repair, Sam gave thought and had time for a pause; retiring, "now what in my life?" At the same time, his neighbor, Patrick, was turning 80 years old. Everyday when seeing each other, Patrick would point to a big leaf maple tree in the distance, the tree being old and arthritic, a history unto its own, and say “widow maker! That’s what that tree will be someday.”
Those years have long since passed, the surgeon having fixed his spine and Patrick got his wish, not that the tree would make a widow-maker out of itself, but that before so, the tree would be transformed, just like Sam, himself. As Sam was in the search for cabinet makers and finding no one who would immortalize this wonderful tree, fruitfully, three men showed up one day out of the blue, during his convalescence, all being wood turners. Three men, three different styles, three different philosophies, and they all welcomed the tree as an art-form, ready to take on a metamorphosis, as the tree evolved into a new 'life.' That tree was the catalyst for Sam as they opened their shops, and hearts, teaching him the fine art and craft of making that transformation happen. Sam's 'new career' now fosters that transformation with his wood, his lathe, his re-claimed trees, turning them, literally AND figuratively, into beautiful wooden bowls.
The lathe and the process has given Sam an appreciation for beauty, form, function and a reason, in general. The shape of a bowl, the use of a bowl, the grain or age of the wood, the finish are all part of being open to what life presents. Sam continues making himself happy with the process and hope the meditation of movement finds you joyful.
Now being retired, once a public schoolteacher and now currently teaching yoga part-time. This spring Sam was part of a feature on Chronicle about the North Quabbin area with his feature section being toward the end of the segment. Sam would love to meet you and hope to be able to show you his work and will be at the Amherst Farmers' Market, along with his brother & sister-in-law, Bruce and Rachel of Little White Goat Dairy, on Saturday's to do so! Feel free to stop by and talk with Sam, or he can also be contacted to set up an appointment if there are any comments or questions. Visit here to see an online gallery of his current work.
Bringing you organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, locally-sourced blog posts on a semi-weekly basis from the Amherst Farmers' Market.