Diane and Chuck Souther, purchased their farm, located on Mountain Road, in February of 1978 and have transformed it into Apple Hill Farm, a stunningly beautiful destination and thriving business. The farm at that time contained neglected crop land, numerous small hay fields, a large portion of wooded areas, and no buildings. Much work has been done in the ensuing years to develop the farm and business they have today.
The driveway was constructed, following the path of an old stone wall, adjacent to the original road from East Concord to Canterbury. The home site was established in 1980 at the junction of two stone walls, and eight windbreaks and walls were relocated to create the fields guests see when they visit the farm. Additionally, five acres of scrub land were cleared to open the fields and connect them together. The first apple trees were planted in the spring of 1978, even before the homestead was established.
Beneath the soil, with the help of the Merrimack County Conservation District and the Soil Conservation Service, 2.5 miles of subsurface tile drains were installed. A large hay barn was built in 1985.
Now in its 43rd year of growth, the apple trees are thriving and changes are constantly taking place. For 15 years the apple crop was sold wholesale as were other crops. In 1995, they established a “Pick Them Yourself” operation for small fruits and apples. Strawberries are available mid-June to mid-July; blueberries mid-July to early September; raspberries, mid-July to early August; and black currants late July to early August. Finally, apples, the largest crop, are picked from Labor Day to Columbus Day.
In addition, the couple built a large modern farm stand including a bakery where they bake pies and simmer jellies from scratch. The farm stand sells peaches, apples, homemade apple cider, jams, jellies, baked goods, NH cheeses, NH bacon, Farnum Hill hard cider, Flag Hill Wine, Hermit Woods Wine and many fall treats and vegetables. From July to the day before Thanksgiving, Apple Hill Farm is open 7 days a week from 8:30 to 5:30.
The Southers are not newcomers to the apple and farming industry, having been involved in agriculture since high school. Apple Hill Farm is frequently the site of tours for farmers and others interested in agriculture in New Hampshire.
They are strong believers in integrated pest management with numerous traps placed, and monitoring techniques used in all crops on the farm. At any time on the farm there is an experimental area, where in cooperation with University researchers, the couple is trying out new forms of crop management.
They maintain that Americans have become too far removed from their food supply as consumers are not aware of where their food comes from and how it is produced. The couple is steadfastly trying to change that trend, and welcome their guests to visit the farm and ask questions about how crops on Apple Hill Farm are produced.
The Southers have previously held numerous leadership positions on many farm organizations including NH Farm Bureau, NH Made, NH Fruit Growers Assn., NH Ag in the Classroom, Conservation Districts, Farm Credit, UNH Extension Advisory Councils and several others. At present Chuck is the Chair of the New Hampshire Current Use Advisory Board which oversees New Hampshire's open space tax assessment program, and was recently appointed to the New Hampshire Agricultural Commissioner's Advisory Council.
Apple Hill Farm was recognized as a 2003 “Farm of Distinction” by the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Foods. In 2013, the Southers received the NH Farm Bureau's Award for Excellent Service in Agriculture and Rural Life.
The Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers has honored outstanding leaders in New England agriculture since 1953. A special committee, appointed by the trustees of Eastern States Exposition, selects its annual fellows.