On a sunny mid-September day, my father and I took a short drive across the Hudson to DuBois Farm. We found it tucked away in a small, wealthy-looking suburban neighborhood just outside of Poughkeepsie. One thing was immediately apparent as we pulled up to the farm: It. Is. Huge. The parking lot was a giant field that reminded me of the makeshift parking lots used at county fairs in New Hampshire, which is where I’m from. After being directed to a parking spot by a lanky, bored high-schooler, my dad and I headed for the main entrance of the farm. We walked along a neat dirt path lined by a pristine white picket fence.
To our left as we entered were little red wagons that you could rent for a couple bucks to use to carry anything you picked or bought. I even saw some people using them to wheel around their kids! Right after the wagon station was a huge pumpkin patch. Small children darted in and out between the spots of orange as parents loaded up their wagons with soon-to-be Jack-o-Lanterns. We walked past the pumpkin patch (I definitely had no room for a Jack-o-Lantern in my tiny dorm room!) and headed up the hill to the main farmhouse.
We chatted for a while with some extremely friendly staff at the cider house. They took the time to answer our questions, and if they didn’t know the answer, they called over someone who did. After the cider house, we grabbed some bags and meandered through the apple orchard, picking a few apples for the road. Friendly little signs were sprinkled throughout the orchard, with cute messages like “apples go in your bag or in your belly!” It was clear to both me and my dad that Dubois Farm has put a lot of care into making the overall the atmosphere of the farm incredibly welcoming and inviting.
I was fascinated by all that I saw at the Dubois Farm. Having worked on a small pick-your-own farm in New Hampshire (Poverty Lane Orchards) for most of my young adult life, I found that being able to compare and contrast the two different farms gave me a unique angle to the whole experience. It was very clear to me that the Poverty Lane and the DuBois Farms differed immensely. For starters, the appearance of the DuBois Farm could not be more different from the appearance of my farm back home. Everything at the DuBois Farm was freshly painted and newly renovated, whereas at Poverty Lane, the main farmhouse is practically caving in on itself. That is not to say Poverty Lane is not financially successful (it definitely is!), but rather that they have different priorities. After my visit to DuBois Farm I got the sense that one of their main objectives is to sell the country to city folk. From the country music played over loud speakers to the picturesque and polished farm stand, there was definitely a lot of work put into making selling a certain image. Poverty Lane doesn’t need to sell the country image, because, well, everyone in New Hampshire already knows what the country is like.
Overall my dad and I had a both a fun and an interesting visit to DuBois Farm. We picked some great apples and talked to some wonderful people. I couldn’t shake the feeling, however, that there was something inauthentic about the whole place. This is obviously just my perspective, but at the end of the day it felt like the farm lost some charm by being so big, polished, and commercial.