The Orchard

As part of our mission, we are establishing a fruit orchard on the property. The orchard will consist of approximately 40 apple trees, blueberry bushes and heirloom raspberry plants. It will be in an area where the raspberries have been growing for decades and there is evidence that apple trees were also once grown there. The orchard will be established as a “guild” community and maintained as organically and environmentally responsibly as possible, following the system outlined by Michael Phillips in his book, “The Holistic Orchard.”

The orchard will benefit people by providing nutritious fruit grown without chemicals. It will benefit the environment by not using poisons and by providing a habitat that will nurture native species such as birds, amphibians, reptiles and beneficial insects.
 
OrchardMar2015The site on the property was chosen for the following reasons: plenty of sun, protected from north winds by evergreen trees, raspberry plants already growing there, flat and easy to access by workers but secluded, already surrounded by many native and wildlife friendly plants. The area had been neglected for decades and was very overgrown with vines, small trees and weeds. There were remnants of old sheds, piles of firewood and logs and other debris around.
 
OrchardJan2017 
We started clearing the area in the spring of 2016. We had the large maple trees that were growing against the back of the chicken coop removed and with only volunteers and a small bulldozer, were able to clear approximately 85% of the area. We are currently working to clear the remaining trees and brush and plan to have it finished by March in time to plant apple trees.

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Current Projects

What We're Working On and Why

The Friends are working to preserve the fertile, ecologically diverse and historic Hilltop Farm, including its soils, native plants, wildlife and buildings.

The National Park Service recognized the farm’s historic significance by listing it in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

With almost 2500 feet of Connecticut River frontage; 70+ acres of woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, cropland, and grazing land; nesting American bald eagles; 10 buildings and thousands of feet of fencing, the farm requires much oversight and maintenance.

Exciting projects are currently underway to revitalize the property and create the infrastructure needed for an educational center:

Fire Safety Provisions

Plans are underway and funding is being sought for a sprinkler system on both levels of the large white barn. This is required in order for us to be able to hold large public events inside the barn. LEARN MORE

Farm House Restoration

In 2014 the Town of Suffield secured a $250,000 grant though the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) to help The Friends restore two of the farm houses on the farmstead. LEARN MORE

The Orchard

A hidden door in the back of the chicken coop leads to The Secret Garden, an acre which is becoming Hilltop Farm's contribution to the Connecticut Fruit Trail. Heirloom apples will join the rejuvinated berry patches to create our orchard. LEARN MORE

Farmstand and Ice Creamery

In 2013 The Friends began work renovating part of the lower level of the big white barn as a three season farmstand and creamery. Completion of this project will bring a steady stream of visitors to the farmstead from Spring through Fall.. LEARN MORE

Wetlands Mitigation & Enhancement Project

Northeast Utilities/Connecticut Light & Power is partnering with The Friends to mitigate wetlands, restore grasslands and eradicate invasive species in several areas of the farm. LEARN MORE

Wildlife Habitat Improvement

Through a contract with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, we are developing and improving wildlife habitat in the agricultural lands. LEARN MORE