Meet Modern Farmer’s Guest Instagrammer: Montgomery Place Orchards
Meet Caroline Finke, this week's guest Instagrammer. Along with her parents and brother, Caroline helps run Montgomery Place Orchards in New York's Hudson Valley. Before she took over our Instagram for the week, we caught up with Caroline to talk about some of her favorite apple varieties and what she thinks of romanticizing farming. You can follow her this week at Modfarm and always on her personal account.
Modern Farmer: Could you tell us a little about your farm?
Caroline Finke: My parents have been on this farm for 28 years now, when they were 22 and had just gotten married. We have about 100 acres, with 65 acres cultivated right now, so pretty small. We started growing mostly fruit and now we are into vegetables too. We do strawberries, raspberries, plums, apricots, grapes, apples, pears, and we are doing more vegetables now. We only sell from our farm market and we also sell to some restaurants in the Hudson Valley. Our farm market is busier than ever. The farm is mostly run by my family of four: my mom, dad, my brother, and I. We do all the field work in the spring and then we have three guys from Jamaica, who have been with us for about 16 years. They do all the picking. Most of our vegetables are non-certified organic and fruit; we try to do as low spray as possible.
MF: You have some really great apple varieties on the farm, what have been some of the best this season?
CF: We grow 70 apple varieties right now, today we have 23 varieties at the farm market. I really like the antique varieties and people are getting really into that now. It is definitely educational. I think Belle de Beboskoop, which is a really tart apple, is doing really well. Its a big clunky looking apple. The Pink Pearl was also a huge hit this year. I think people are getting into complex, tart flavors, instead of just sweet eating apples (like Honey Crisp). People are getting into that a lot more.
MF: You are also starting to make hard cider?
CF: We used to sell it here, it’s called Annandale Atomic Hard Cider. It is so delicious. My brother and dad make it together. We formed a LLC , so we had to reapply for some permits. We are just waiting on the government now. So right now we can sell it wholesale, but we can’t sell it at the market. We are really hoping that by November we can cell it. We do all different veritable ciders: Red Vain, crab apple, sour cherry, we experimented with pears, but most of the antique varieties we planted to make cider with. That was the reason behind them. We are selling sweet cider now.
MF: You document a lot of your farm life. What inspired you?
CF: I have taken pictures forever and I love Instagram because it is a way to share all these pictures. I think people romanticize farming a lot and it is really hard work, but it is really romantic. I put up pictures year round, it’s my family planting together in the spring, picking tomatoes, processing them, just sharing the whole process. It is important for people to not just see the finished product that makes it look so simple and pretty.
MF: Is there anything you are looking forward to sharing this week in particular?
CF: I am just really happy to do it this week; I think the apple varieties are really exciting. I am excited to share apple varieties that people haven’t heard about and what their specific usage is and their backstory.
(This interview has been edited and condensed. All images courtesy Montgomery Place Orchards.)