About Indian Creek Farm, the Home of “Orchard Ambrosia.”

Nestled in Finger Lakes wine country, and blessed with dreamy soil for growing fruit trees, Indian Creek Farm is a 100-year-old orchard and u-pick spot.  Come visit the farm for seasonal picking of apples, peaches, pumpkins, berries, and vegetables.  We are just 3 minutes from downtown Ithaca, New York.  See our brochure.

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If you want country air and a sense of accomplishment, wander the farm to try your hand at picking.  The orchards, veggie fields, and berry patches are your “grocery aisles” with a view.  You can see our annual crop calendar and we can email you Fresh Crop Alerts so you don’t miss you favorite local foods.

In our Vintage Orchard, you will find the classic varieties McIntosh, Cortland, Rome Beauty, Red Delicious and Northern Spy.  Growing on 100-year-old trees that have weathered the ages, these apples are fresh and familiar at the same time.

02-P1110903The new Dwarf Orchard puts an incredible 60 varieties of apples within arm’s reach—and right at eye-level for kids!  Lots of weird apples to try out, and no junkfood in sight.

Speaking of sweets, you can pick the quintessential pie apple in the Mutsu Orchard.  These gigantic, green beauties with a rosy blush hold their structure when baked.  They are a sweet and crunchy dessert apple, too, perfect for eating out of hand.

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Leading up to apple season, you can pick peaches and strawberries and raspberries and a dozen vegetables.  In October you can pick your magic pumpkin.  Crops come and go fast on a small farm, so we send out weekly updates to our email subscribers.

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Ithaca’s Orchard Playground.

You can think of Indian Creek Farm as the state park with free admission.  Eight dollars gets you into a state park—it costs nothing to visit the farm.  Stroll around, have a picnic, grill out, use the free wifi.  Why do we offer this?  We love sharing farm.

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There are fun spots scattered around, and each month from May through November brings fresh local foods.  Come see the seasons at Indian Creek.  Bring the kids or bring a date.  Hide from the world, read a book, take in the foliage.  You can bark at the farm dogs and chickens.  Just keep an eye on your haul.

During our busy workdays, it makes us happy to see folks enjoying the farm.  There are just a few things that we ask.  Please “pack in and pack out,” because it helps keep the farm beautiful.  Please pay for what you pick.  Everything is based on trust and your honesty keeps us open.  Finally, be safe!  Indian Creek is a working farm, so there are tools around and ruts in the ground.  Use good sense.

P1120147A couple years ago we invited everyone out to the farm for one big party.  Maybe you can join us for the annual Pigs-n-Apples Party.  It is on a Saturday in early October when the apple harvest is peaking and people are feeling festive.  There are always old-fashioned games for kids and farm-fresh food for all.

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Orchard Ambrosia.

Fresh-pressed juice!  We make it all season.  In this world of processed food we are proud to offer the real thing.

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At Indian Creek Farm, we call it “Orchard Ambrosia,” the crisp and delicious, unpasteurized beverage made exclusively from apples (and sometimes a few pears).  What we offer is freshly squeezed juice straight from apples that were picked from the tree, not the ground.   As basic and refreshing as there is.

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Want our recipe?  Sure!  We pick 3 or more varieties, grind them into pulp, and squeeze the pulp.  Juice flows.  We bottle it.  Done!  Please feel free to watch the operation when you’re down at the farm stand. It’s pretty neat.  Ask for a free taste of chilled Ambrosia.  We make it every week through apple season, so you can buy jugs starting in August and continuing into winter.

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A Taste of the History.

In the old days, central New York was the homeland of the Iroquois.  They were the last in a series of Native American peoples to settle the area stretching back more than 10,000 years.  One of the original Iroquois nations, the Cayuga, lived along the shores of the lake which bears their name—including present-day Indian Creek Farm.

A map from Old Indian Trails in Tompkins County (1944) shows a footpath running up the west side of Cayuga Lake and crossing Indian Creek, where the farm is today.  Some of the creeks in the area, most notably Taughannock, retain their Iroquois names; but the babbling brook which runs through our woods acquired the name “Indian Creek” at some point.  So, in its own way, the very name of the farm recalls a long period of history which seems especially worthy of contemplation.

By the 1790s, following the Revolutionary War and federal campaigns against the Iroquois, a tract of almost 2 million acres in central New York was divided into military bounty lands, and balloted to soldiers for their service against the British.  Simeon DeWitt’s map (1802) of the Military Tract of Central New York shows the balloted lots and Indian reservations.

Our 40 acres, along with neighboring farms, were part of a 600-acre parcel granted to  colonial soldier Alexander Kidd.  We haven’t learned much about Kidd or those early years, but we think some sections of the land were farmed continuously throughout the 19th century, while others were logged and reforested.  Eventually the farm came into the possession of the Frear family, whose local prominence might help the search for historical materials.

Early in the 20th Century, the Vintage Orchard was planted at Indian Creek Farm.  The farm changed hands several times, and by 1997 the orchard had fallen into disrepair and a magnificent old barn had burned down.  The gnarled trees desperately needed pruning and the grounds were covered with brambles.

That’s when Stephen Cummins took a risk on Indian Creek, hoping to save the old orchard and share it with people who would appreciate it.  There he is, at age 5 in 1968, dragging a load of apples around Dad’s backyard orchard in Geneva.

Which brings us to Dad, Dr. Jim Cummins.  During his long tenure at the Cornell University Geneva Experiment Station, Dad got the whole family involved in orchard and nursery work.  He had his sights set on developing a new repertoire of apple rootstocks that could resist crown rot and fire blight—the “double whammy” that was taking out so many orchards in the late 1960s.

The whole gang helped cross-pollinate the flowers and produce over 300,000 hybrid seeds.  To have a longer plant-breeding season, the family took the camper as far south as the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., and north into Quebec.  Much of what we have been able to do at Indian Creek Farm goes back to Dad.

And much goes back to big brother, James, a lifelong orchardist who taught Stephen everything from grafting trees to rebuilding tractor engines.  Apprenticing under James gave Stephen the tools to strike out on his own at Indian Creek.

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Since the beginning, Stephen has worked side by side with his farming partner, Tony, who has kept us going for fifteen years running.  Tony and his dad, “Pops,” have to be thought of as founding members of The ‘Creek and they are family here.

After a few years, the farm got a boost from Stephen’s old pal Alan, who traded in his tweed blazer—required dress in the Cornell classics department—for a Carhart and pruning shears.  There’s his son, Orson, helping with fall cleanup.

It wasn’t long before a lass called Jen hitched her wagon to the train, when she met Stephen and became “The Farmer’s Wife.”  The dogs of Indian Creek have never been better fed.  There’s Maw and Paw strolling the Vintage Orchard.

Well that’s not even the half of it.  We could go on and on about everyone who has chipped in to build the farm.  Too many friends to name have spent an hour picking apples after their day job, or spent their vacations helping with farm projects.  From stacking firewood to polishing peaches, our friends are the real story of Indian Creek.

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Hope to See You at The ‘Creek.

To all you customers who sustain us with your visits, thanks for becoming friends of the farm.