SOMERS, N.Y. (WCBS 880) – Forty-five miles north of Midtown, there’s a little patch of paradise in Somers.
“In April it will be 190 years my ancestors were here – 1828,” Bob Stuart tells Sean Adams.
He is keeping the tradition alive on Westchester County’s oldest working farm.
“Initially it was a dairy farm. They would just grow enough to sell to their neighbors,” he says. “Then later on when the trains came through in the 1870s, they would send milk down to Yonkers to the different bakeries.”
In the 1930s, Stuart’s father switched to fruit trees.
“A big decision back in the ‘60s – we go 25 cents a gallon for cider to 35 cents a gallon for cider,” he says.
He thinks he knows why generations return every season to pick their own apples.
“You wait until they’re ripe and that’s when you get their full flavor,” he says. “Unfortunately, a lot of people when they ship it in from far distances, they’ve got to pick them not-so-ripe because they wouldn’t hold up.”
At Stuart’s Farm, they prefer to do things the old fashioned way.
“Sometimes in the summer I’m out working at 4-o-clock, 4:30, in the morning, and I don’t get done until 10-o-clock at night,” says Stuart.
It’s hard work and there are always offers for the 200 acres.
“It’s unfortunate when you lose a farm, you lose it forever – it’s not like somebody moving out of a building and a new one coming in,” he says. “And farms are the backbone of America, you know you need to feed the people.”
Stuart’s Farm survives – preservation groups, the state, the county and town all chipped in to purchase the development rights.
“So this way the farm stays as a farm in perpetuity,” he says.
So future generations of Stuarts can work the land and feed their neighbors.
“When I get up early in the morning to work, it’s great. You see the sunrise and it’s a wonderful life,” he says. “I mean there’s some days that it’s tough, but most days it’s just great.”