About the Farm
Apple Pond Farm and Renewable Energy Education Center is about two hours from New York City, situated in the Catskill Mountains of Sullivan County.
The 81 acres of the land of Apple Pond Farm was first farmed in 1865. After 100 years of dairy farming, the land and buildings were deserted, and a period of major deterioration took place. In 1973, Sonja Hedlund and Dick Riseling purchased it and began restoring the land and buildings to good health. For 35 years, the main power for the farm was provided by draft horses which raked hay, spread manure, brought logs from the woods for firewood, cultivated crops, provided a livery service for 5 hotels, gave hay rides for the many farm tours that took place every week, and produced 142 draft horse and warm blood foals which were trained and sold in the regional market.
In 2003, a tractor and several renewable energy systems became the new sources of farm energy. They made certain that energy efficiency and renewable energy offset the use of mechanized power and provided close to 100% of the energy used at the farm. As the farm expanded into a Renewable Energy and Education Center, 12.5 kw of solar electric, 64 solar thermal tubes, air source heat pumps, a straw bale building, used vegetable oil truck and furnace, LED lighting and other energy savings measures which provided nearly 100% of the energy needs of the farm were added. They also grew fruit, vegetables, made hay, and raised chickens, turkeys, sheep and goats for meat, eggs, and wool. They also added a 120’ tower and 10kw wind turbine.
In 2020, with the help of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the land of Apple Pond Farm was put into an agricultural conservation easement, ensuring that it be used for agricultural purposes in perpetuity. The land cannot be subdivided into housing units.
The Farm Today
On Earth Day, April 22, 2023, a tornado hit Sullivan County. A cellphone warning told us to move to the basement, and in 15 minutes the tornado hit us. While no people or animals were hurt, winds of over 100 mph lifted the house up and dropped it down in a slightly different place, and the roof of the barn was torn off. Solar panels on the garage and house were cracked and the 120' wind turbine was ripped from the ground. Most wooden and wire fencing was pulled up. All 9 horse sheds and several sheds for sheep, goats and chickens were tossed hundreds of feet and tipped over. More than 750 trees were torn from the ground. Those along the drive way were destroyed and entry to the farm was impossible. There was no electricity or water. With the help of neighbors and volunteers, the trees from the driveway were cleared, and a restoration project began. Apple Pond Farm is still recovering and rebuilding while looking for the next stewards to bring the farm into its next phase. During our restoration, the farm is closed and we are no longer offering farm stays. We encourage future partners or volunteers to reach out via our contact page.
Throughout the years, more than 300 farming and renewable energy apprentices from 13 countries and all regions of the USA have spent 3 months to a year or longer with us. Many now operate profitable farms, serve as examples in sustainable economic farming or serve in positions of significant responsibility in the sustainable offices of universities, city government, commercial renewable energy companies and not-for-profit organizations. We are extremely grateful for all of the volunteers, apprentices and community members who have contributed to the story of Apple Pond Farm and those who have assisted in rebuilding after the tornado.
Meet The Owners:
Sonja Hedlund and Dick Riseling