Apple Hill Farm has seen plenty of changes over 79 years, but one thing has remained the same; the family that runs it.
The Moriello family first acquired what is now Apple Hill Farm in 1938, when Mike Moriello purchased the abandoned fruit farm at a foreclosure sale, giving up the teaching profession he earned by graduating from the normal school of New Paltz. Normal schools were designed to teach high school graduates how to become teachers.
His older brother “Pop” Joe Moriello joined him on the farm in 1945 before passing ownership to his son Tony in the mid 50s. Now, ownership lies with Michael and Jean Moriello, who transformed the farm in 1985 from a wholesale market into its current state by relocating an old barn to the front of the farm and turning it into a commercial business.
Fourth generation employee and retail manager Christine Moriello spoke about how the family’s rich history with the farm is among the things that makes it special, another being location.
“In New Paltz and the Hudson Valley, there’s tons of beautiful nature around us,” she said. “We overlook Mohonk, the Shawangunk Mountains and the Catskills, so I think that’s the most special part of it, the breathtaking views at the top.”
Located on Route 32, the farm is right down the road from SUNY New Paltz. Christine talked about the farm’s proximity to campus being a benefit.
“We’re in the heart of New Paltz,” she said. “New Paltz is busy, you have the ability that halfway down the road you have this open land when you can have a quiet moment with your friends, significant other or whoever. There seems to be a deep appreciation that’s coming back from the younger generation for local agriculture and it’s really nice to watch.”
On Saturday, Sept. 30, the American Red Cross Club of SUNY New Paltz held an event at the farm for hurricane relief. On Sunday, Oct. 8, the Black Fox River Project will be playing live music at the farm from noon to 4 p.m.
Christine said there’s an interest in collaborating more with the college to host events.
Apple Hill Farm is open from the beginning of September to the end of October, the small window that is apple season. Open on weekends only, they allow visitors to buy pumpkins, enjoy hayrides and of course, pick apples.
Some of their more notable apples are the opalescent, a very large red apple not native to the area that gets shipped in from Michigan, and a fan favorite, big ugly joe. The golden delicious is the Moriello family favorite.
According to Christine, the apple trees benefit from their long history on the farm dating back to the mid 20th century, giving the apples a different taste.
Second only to the apples themselves, apple cider doughnuts sell more than most other things the farm offers.
“There’s people that come from all different parts of the east coast that have had some experience here and they come back just for the doughnuts because they love them so much,” Christine said.
She said her family has not considered renaming the farm to Doughnut Hill Farm.