The apples and pears have all been picked at Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton, Massachusetts, but activity on the 80-acre farm hasn’t come to a stop. Through the end of November visitors can tour the grounds, where trails meander among 30 curated, large-scale sculptures and art installations placed in harmony alongside the farm’s fruit trees. Nearly 100 artists applied to participate in the 6th biennial Art in the Orchard show, a juried event which is expected to attract about 25k visitors by the end of its 4-month run.
Park Hill Orchard is open dawn to dusk every day through the end of the month, and experiencing the sculpture trails is free. So if you’re looking for a safe, relaxing and enriching road trip for the family, we highly recommend taking the 1 hour and 45 minute drive from Natick to Easthampton. The farm stand is open and selling the bountiful autumn harvest as well as baked goods, coffee, and a cider slushie that you should not say no to. There are bathrooms onsite.
The first Art in the Orchard show came about in 2011 when orchard owners Alane Hartley and Russell Braen, eager to have their farm play an active part in the local cultural economy, joined forces with Easthampton gallery owner Jean-Pierre Pasche. Pasche had always wanted to recreate an outdoor sculpture exhibit like the one set in meadows near his hometown in Switzerland, and so a community partnership was born.
Today the project is supported by over a dozen local businesses and donors, a host of volunteers, and has been recognized by the Massachusetts Cultural Council with one of its three annual Gold Star Awards as an exemplary community arts event out of more than 5,000 projects funded annually by local cultural councils statewide.
Special programs such as music, moonlight walks, dance, theater and more are put on throughout the duration of the exhibit. Check their website for more information.
During our visit we saw family groups, friend groups, and on-a-date types like us, all enjoying the 2 or so hours it takes to wander the paths. Park Hill Orchard welcomes those who need help with accessibility by making available an ADA cart driven through the orchard by good ol’ Hank. Rides are available through November 28th for those who use wheeled devices or have trouble navigating the uneven terrain. Availability is Monday-Thursday, 2pm-5pm; Friday and Saturday, noon-5pm. No appointment is necessary.
Not tired yet? Mt. Tom State Reservation and its many trails is in nearby Holyoke. If you go, just remember to keep an eye on the clock. A pair of irresponsible types we know had to sprint down the mountain before park rangers slammed the gate shut at 4pm. Let’s not name any names.
PLACE: Park Hill Orchard, 82 Park Hill Rd., Easthampton, MA 01027
EXHIBIT: Art in the Orchard, open dawn til dusk. Free.
FARM STAND: Open 10am-dusk
Picnicking encouraged. Plenty of tables available.
Dogs on leashes allowed.