Saratoga County

Lindsey’s Idyllwood Orchard to end operations

Orchard dates back to the early 1900s
Duane Lindsey inspects his crop of Ida Red apples in 2012.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Duane Lindsey inspects his crop of Ida Red apples in 2012.

REXFORD — Lindsey’s Idyllwood Orchard, a family-owned agribusiness for close to 50 years, will end its run this weekend.

The orchard, located on Sugar Hill Road in Rexford, is owned by Duane Lindsey, who said the decision to close was based on a major drop in revenue over the past year, high overhead costs and the fact that customers simply aren’t coming to pick apples there anymore.

The Lindsey Farm on Grooms Road and Lindsey’s Country Store and Sweet Shoppe on Route 9 in Clifton Park will both remain open.

Orchard sales are down 15 percent from last year, said Lindsey, 66, even though this year’s crop is stronger than last season’s. Lindsey pointed out he did not raise prices on his apples this year, either.

September is usually slow for apple picking, said Linsdey, but traffic usually picks up in October. That bump in traffic didn’t come this year, he said.

“Even on the nice days, we never equaled our sales from last year,” he said. “When we get into October and have nice, cool days, and we’re just not busy, it is what it is.” 

The Lindsey Orchard was once the go-to apple orchard in the Clifton Park area, Lindsey said. But now, other orchards have opened nearby and often have other attractions, such as petting zoos or rides on the property that lead to long lines to get in and a steady flow of customers.

“We’ve always had pick-your-own apples with no rides or animals,” Lindsey said. “We didn’t have the space to do a lot of that.”

Paying for orchard employees has also been costly, Lindsey said. For close to two decades, he employed a worker from Jamaica, and more recently the worker’s son, through a visa program.

Lindsey’s four daughters sometimes help out on the weekend, but paying for housing, transportation, and other fees for the migrant workers is too costly to continue, he said.

His daughters, he added, now have their own children and don’t have a lot of time to work at the orchard for the eight-week season.

The orchard has been in town since the early 1900s, Lindsey said. His parents bought it in 1970, and the first apple crop was in 1971. Lindsey agreed to take over the orchard from his sister two years ago and gave himself two years to try to change its trajectory.

“Sales are just down,” he said.

Lindsey also attributed the decrease in business to interests changing. Younger people, he said, often find it easier to purchase apples at the supermarket. Clifton Park has also grown over the decades, he added, and people find other activities to do on the weekend.

“There’s so many things going on now,” he said. “Thirty or 40 years ago, people didn’t have as much to do, so they came to pick apples.”

Some customers expressed dismay on social media about the orchard’s closure, and Lindsey expressed gratitude for those who supported the business.

“We have regular customers who are there every week,” he said. “They’re heartbroken that we’re closing.”

The Lindsey Farm on Grooms Road and Lindsey’s Country Store and Sweet Shoppe on Route 9 in Clifton Park will both remain open.

The orchard’s final day of operation will be Nov. 4.

Categories: Business, News

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