The Cornwall family keeps an orchard – Addison Independent

THE HODGES FAMILY has preserved 171 acres of Cornwall orchards and wetlands that overlook both the Adirondacks to the west and the Green Mountains to the east.

CORNWALL – A popular apple orchard in Addison County has been protected for agriculture and community enjoyment.

Barney Jr. and Dee Hodges have retained 171 acres of Sunrise Orchards in Cornwall and passed the business on to their son Barney III and his wife Chris Hodges, the Vermont Land Trust recently announced.

Community members generously contributed to a successful fundraising campaign to protect the orchard. Additional support came from the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as the Hodges family, who sold the development rights below market value.

“The Hodges have grown and expanded Sunrise Orchards impressively, investing in infrastructure and adding agritourism opportunities, including a farm,” said VLT’s Al Karnatz. “It’s a great orchard for locals and visitors, and the community has really stepped up to help keep it going. We are delighted that this will continue to be a staple in the Middlebury area in the future.

Established in 1974, the orchard began on 88 acres of a former dairy farm. Today, Sunrise harvests over 100,000 bushels a year, sells its apples wholesale, and has its own packing facility and accommodations for seasonal workers.

The orchard is well known in the Middlebury area and is a U-pick apple destination. Their apples can also be found year-round at the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op. In 2021, Sunrise added a farm stand with apples, cider, candies and coffee, and held a harvest festival in October.

“Conservation of the orchard has been our family’s wish for decades,” said Barney Hodges III. “We are really happy to keep the orchard. Not just for our generation, but for generations to come. And we are very grateful for the local support that has helped make this possible.

The area conserved includes the main orchard, as well as 10 acres of wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas with special protections. In addition to natural resources, the conservation easement includes farm affordability protections to ensure the land remains available for farming in the future.

The Vermont Land Trust is a statewide, member-supported, nonprofit land conservation organization. Since 1977, the Vermont Land Trust has protected over 2,000 parcels of land covering over 615,000 acres. This includes over 900 working farms and parcels of agricultural land, hundreds of thousands of acres of productive forest land, and numerous parcels of community land.

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