BY SARA GILBERT
The Orchards of Concklin celebrated 300 years – 11 generations – of family farming in Pomona with speeches, vendors, and activities as a crowd of excited, high-spirited locals came out for a July 4 birthday party held at the farm.
Located at South Mountain Road and Route 45, the Orchards of Concklin is one of a handful of farms left in Rockland County and is reputed to be the eighth oldest family business in all of America.
“When I look out, I see friends I’ve known for 30 years and those I met yesterday,” said Linda Concklin, thanking everyone for coming and supporting. “We can’t run this place without the help of community.”
Thirty years ago some local teenagers looking for part-time work and something to do over the summer began working on the farm. Those same “kids” are still there helping out when the Concklins need it, according to Linda’s brother, Richard. “During the summer, our busy season, we have something like 80 people working here,” he said.
Linda Concklin believes a sense of duty imbues their work. She said, “It is important for us to take care of our land so that it remains as productive for the next 300 years as it has for the last 300.”
Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell, the keynote speaker for the event, told how Nicholas Concklin began the farm 300 years ago. In fact, he is the one who named the area Pomona, after the goddess of fruit.
“And generation after generation ever since have darkened their finger nails with the same work and dedication,” said Cornell. “I’m so happy the Rockland Legislature stepped in to save this farm because the value is obvious.”
Legislator Philip Soskin spoke nostalgically about the good old days when family meant something to people.
“Things have changed,” he said. “But it’s an honor to see this family and how dedicated they are to keeping this family business.”
The festival included music by the Walkabout Clearwater Chorus, square dancing lesson, farm tours, children’s activities, and of course a lot of food. Vendors were present selling homemade pickles, wine and cheese. In addition, informative booths were set up, including the New York Farm Bureau, which works to protect family farms from any federal, state or local laws that might be problematic to the farms’ future.
“We work to try to keep legislature from putting us out of business,” said Marilyn Howard, field advisor of the New York Farm Bureau for Rockland and surrounding counties.
The farm harvests 20 varieties of applies, as well as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, currents, gooseberries, cherries, mid-summer peaches, plums, nectarines, corn, tomatoes, pumpkins. They also make apple cider, apple cider donuts, pies, cookies and cakes all year long. They sell their produce to 20 different tri-state farmers’ markets and locally in Rockland County from summer through fall.
To learn more about the Orchards of Concklin, visit www.theorchardsofconcklin.com.