Family Farm History
In 1951, Francis ("Red") and Linda Kelliher bought a farm on Bailey Road in Enfield. The property they purchased consisted of 50 acres of land, a farmhouse, and outbuildings. There were also 20-25 apple trees that had been planted in the 1930's. For the first two years, they raised tobacco on the land while Red worked at a Ford tractor dealer. When he landed a job at Kaman Helicopter, farming took a back seat. The land was rented out to local farmers, who grew potatoes, corn and tobacco.
When the farm was first purchased, the original apple trees were over-grown by brush. Red set about clearing the brush from the trees and tending them. Around 1964, he began planting more trees - about 200 on 2 acres. The apples from these trees were sold at Linda's parent's farm on Elm Street, the site of the Enfield Square today. In between the farming and aircraft work, Red and Linda raised five children - Dianne, Mark, James (Jamie), Brian and Kristine.
In 1978, Jamie and Brian wanted to plant some apple trees of their own. Jamie cleared a half acre of land, and the following year the two boys cleared another half acre. They planted McIntosh, Red Delicious and Macoun as semi-standard trees trained to the modified central leader system. This was when Brian first began to learn the finer points of training trees, identifying diseases and pests.
In 1978, Brian entered college majoring in horticulture. During the last few years of college, he grew vegetables at his parents' farm to sell in area farmer's markets. Upon his graduation from UConn with Bachelor's degrees in both Horticulture and English literature, he went back to farming his parents' land. His primary crops were corn and apples, with other vegetables to round out his selection. In 1985, Brian was hired as Orchard Manager for Pine Brook Orchard, a pick-your-own operation in Colchester, CT. At Pine Brook, Brian learned the 4-wire trellis system (espalier). This method allows a far greater tree density and higher yields. When Pine Brook was sold in 1988, Brian came home to Enfield and the whole family began to help build the town's first pick-your-own orchard on the family farm.
An irrigation well was drilled in 1989, and the pipes were laid. The tree planting began in 1990, with dwarf apple trees, peaches and the nursery and autumn saw the installation of the first section of trellis to support the 1,500 apple trees that comprise "Block I". The following year, a half acre of raspberries was added.
An electrified fence was completed in 1991, encircling the orchard with seven strands of wire placed at an angle to deter deer from feasting on the crops. More rootstocks were added to the nursery in 1991, and that summer was spent grafting trees as well. The fall of 1991 saw the start of planting in the back part of the orchard "Block II" which continued through 1995.
In the fall of 1992, Easy Pickin's Orchard was ready to open to the public for the first time. It was time to see if all the hard work would pay off. We opened our gates the third week of August, with an old kitchen table under a market umbrella in the field. For our first year, we offered pick-your-own apples, peaches and raspberries.
1993 brought a bumper crop of peaches, and an even greater yield of apples than the year before. More people heard about Easy Pickin's Orchard, and came out to see what we were all about. We started advertising in local papers, and the customers came.
Since then, we've worked hard to increase and expand our offerings to you. We've added pick-your-own vegetables, flowers, herbs, plums, Asian pears, and Blueberries. There will be wagon rides and school tours, entertainment and education. Bring your family to Easy Pickin's Orchard for farm fun!