Prospect Hill Orchards is still a family farm. The sixth and seventh generations of Clarkes are now farming the land. Today, modern equipment and modern growing methods are used. Steve and his son Brad are the principle growers. They plant dwarf trees to increase orchard efficiency. Old favorites such as Golden Delicious and Macoun as well as newer varieties like Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp and Snapdragon are grown. Fruits are cared for under a low-spray program called IPM, Integrated Pest Management. When our daughter Pamela decided to return to the farm, she began marketing through the NYC Greenmarket system. She and husband Robert Torres have focused on growing small fruits and creating new products to enhance their market display.
Leonard Clarke, and his wife Marion, have been farming in Milton since the 1940’s. At that time, large amounts of small fruits, cherries, peaches and grapes were grown at Prospect Hill Orchards along with apples and pears. Gradually, the focus shifted to cherries, apples and pears and the more labor intensive and riskier small fruits and grapes were phased out. Apples and pears have predominated for nearly forty years. “Grandpa” is certainly a well-respected fruit grower in the Valley. He maintains that “times are always changing” and he changes right along with the times!
Steven Clarke began farming in 1967 after graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in Horticulture. His wife Judy joined him when her degree from Cornell University was completed. At first, they grew just apples. Gradually, they realized the benefits of diversifying the crops and added cherries and peaches. By the 1980’s, “pick your own” became popular and retail sales were added to the wholesale business. New crops catering to “pick your own” customers were planted including sour cherries, nectarines, specialty apples and pumpkins. Over thirty years later, many satisfied customers return year after year to pick high quality fruit and enjoy the open countryside and the farm atmosphere. As the demand for low spray fruits increased, we began practicing IPM (Integrated Pest Management), a low spray program.
Pamela Clarke returned to the farm several years after graduating from William and Mary College. Wanting to own her own business, Pam and her husband Robert Torres, began selling fruits and vegetables in the New York City Greenmarkets. This spurred an interest in a return to the production of small fruits and berries including strawberries, currants, red and black raspberries, gooseberries and blueberries. Her need for a wide variety of produce led to plantings of apricots, plums, grapes and quince and asian pears.
Bradley Clarke came back to the farm after graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 1998. He has joined his father and grandfather in the production of the tree fruits, each season learning more about the intricacies of growing and marketing. Brad independently manages 4 acres of cherries, 8 acres of apples. And 20 acres of pears.