In 1965, John and Judy Clark began a dairy farm in Hyde Park, Vermont. They called it Applecheek, after a reporter from the Boston Globe photographed John at a cow auction and wrote the caption, “Applecheek Youngsters Bid At Hoods Cherry Hill Farm Auction.” Not knowing what it meant, John and Judy went to the dictionary to read the definition: young, youthful, rosy cheeked, and liked it so much they decided to keep it.
They raised their two sons at Applecheek, and in 2000 transitioned it from a conventional dairy to a certified organic diversified farm. In 2001 their youngest, Jason, returned and began his company, Just Delicious Catering, which is run out of the farm’s event hall. In 2005, John Jr. and his wife, Rocio, moved back to the farm and slowly took over its management. With the farm’s organic focus and their community outreach, the Clark’s have attracted a new wave of Applecheekers, and now, 46 years after John and Judy began, there are two new couples living and starting their own businesses on the farm.
In November 2010, Ben Urris and Emma Podolin began planning Hatchbrook Gardens and building a small cabin at Applecheek. This summer marks the first season of the Hatchbrook free-choice style CSA, in which the members choose what and how much produce they want each week. Ben and Emma are also selling produce to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Claire’s Restaurant in Hardwick, and Salt in Montpelier. They will be teaching workshops on food preservation later this summer and fall.
Katie Spring and Edge Fuentes found Applecheek this past winter when they were looking for raw milk. They had just moved back to Vermont from Alaska and were looking for land to lease or farms to partner with, and John and Rocio invited them to Applecheek. Now they are learning about intensive grazing systems, and are growing dry beans and corn for cornmeal. In the coming seasons, Katie and Edge will also be growing a variety of grains for the farm.
Ben, Emma, Katie and Edge have all worked and managed small farms and market gardens in the past, and now they are able to pursue their own endeavors on Applecheek Farm. With John and Rocio raising healthy, delicious meat, milk and eggs, Ben and Emma growing vegetables, and Katie and Edge growing beans, corn and grains, Applecheek strives to create a complete farm system in order to offer a full diet to its community.
The farm is open to the public, and we have a farm store that is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, so come check it out and see what’s happening!