Valley Bounty: Pine Hill Orchards

Brady Shearer stands with a bin of newly harvested apples.It’s apple season and owner-operators Matt and Brady Shearer of Pine Hill Orchards in Colrain are gearing up for a vibrant fall. Like many farms in our three counties, the orchard offers a wide array of products and activities for visitors that reflect creativity, logistical planning, and abiding commitment to their orchard, no matter the weather.

The family farm lost their peaches and stone fruits to a freeze in February, then they lost approximately half of their typical apple yield to a late freeze in May. “We’re very lucky to have apples this season,” says Brady Shearer.

For apple aficionados, Matt Shearer confirms, “We’ll have all of our varieties for the fall, including favorites like Honeycrisp, Cortland, Macintosh, and Galas. The frost impacted how long we will have apples to sell into 2024 at our farm store.”

For the couple, the inconsistent weather and its impact on Pine Hill Orchards crops was balanced by the affirmative support of community. “As a group, farmers try to work together,” Brady Shearer notes. “It’s really helpful to have a tight-knit community like ours, because people take care of each other.”

Connection to a broader base of support is important, too – as was well illustrated by the broad response by donors, local organizations, and the state to the freeze and the flooding that impacted other farms throughout the region. CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) has been at the center of this response, and Brady Shearer notes, “CISA does a lot to support farmers. They create an environment for farmers to meet each other through workshops and training, which has been very helpful. They’re a sort of glue connecting the farming community.”

The farm was recently part of Congressman James McGovern’s 13th annual farm tour. During this difficult farming year, the impact of climate change on farms was a central theme. Brady Shearer adds, “It’s nice to know that someone in a higher seat in government takes an interest in local farms. It’s important to know that our concerns are being heard.”

For Pine Hill Orchards, the focus remains on apples. A beloved fall crop, pick-your-own apples is a seasonal favorite activity for young and old alike. Matt Shearer assures Apples in baskets available for sale at the Pine Hill Orchards Farm store. visitors that the pick-your-own area of trees was minimally impacted by frost. He lists the varieties available, “We have Honeycrisp, Macintosh, Macoun, Jonagold, Cortland, and Pink Lady closer to October.”

The Farm Store is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Pick-your-own apples is open daily, now through Columbus Day weekend. On weekdays, pick-your-own bags can be purchased at the Farm Store and pickers walk out to the designated section.

Cider donuts are made on site with the farm's own cider.On weekends, the farm bursts with fun activities like wagon rides, a fire pit with s’mores, yard games, and a barnyard. Matt Shearer adds, “We’re very hands on, and we love seeing our visitors to the farm. You’ll find family members driving the tractor, pouring cider, and bagging donuts.”

Behind the scenes, the team makes their own apple cider and cider donuts. They start making cider in mid-September. Matt Shearer explains, “If we start too early in the month, the cider is a little tart. We need to give the fruit time to ripen more fully. We make cider a little later in September to enhance sweetness.”

There is a lot to do at Pine Hill Orchards. The farm barnyard offers visitors a chance to visit with mini donkeys, goats, geese, and pot belly pigs. “It’s not just the kids who enjoy the barnyard—it’s fun for everyone,” Brady Shearer says.

“Apple picking is our biggest season, but our farm store is open year-round,” says Matt Shearer. The farm grows pumpkins and fall mums are now ready. Visitors can plan on a quintessential New England day—but skip packing a picnic. “We’ve got plenty of food on site,” she adds.

On weekends, the team runs the Orchard Grill food truck that features American fare and a tent with covered seating. The menu offers loaded baked potatoes or fries, burgers, and sandwiches. Apple cider, cider donuts, and caramel apples round out the offerings.

The farm plans many events this fall, and watching their website and Facebook pages are the best way to stay tuned. This season, Pine Hill Orchard is collaborating with Colrain’s Griswold Memorial Library to offer a story walk in the pick-your-own area, featuring the book “Arlo Rolled” by Susan Pearson.

Overall, Brady and Matt Shearer convey a sense of gratitude for their farm, their team, and their community. Brady Shearer says, “I feel grateful that we get to work together as a family, doing what we love. It’s a blessing.” That sentiment extends to the orchard crew, as well, “Our staff is like family to us. Some of our workers return every year, and we stay in touch all year long,” she says. Owner-operator, David Shearer, stands with his tractor set up with a wagon for fall visitors.

For Matt Shearer, everything comes back to their customers, “The fall is a busy time for us, but we really enjoy visiting with our customers. That brings me joy.”

Lisa Goodrich is communications coordinator for Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, (CISA). Learn more about local farms, harvest favorites, and seasonal fun in our online guide at