Meadowbrook Orchards was founded in 1912 with the purchase of five abutting farms that were consolidated into one. John Chandler — the grandfather of our current owner, David Chandler, Sr. — was the owner and original proprietor. John’s aim was to start an orchard, but since it takes ten to fifteen years to develop a profitable orchard, he also started raising cows. He ran a successful dairy business for many years.
In 1927, a devastating fire burned the huge barn that housed not only the cows, but also the draft horses, pigs and 10,000 laying hens; all were lost. Fortunately, by that time, the orchard was financially viable. John’s children and grandchildren suspected he was relieved to be out of his other ventures, so he could devote full time to his first love: growing and selling apples.
From spring freezes to hail storms and hurricanes, few agricultural enterprises are more subject to natural disasters than apple growing. In September, 1938, a ferocious hurricane devastated central Massachusetts. It destroyed our entire crop and uprooted nearly 60 percent of the trees. It took years to recover from this disaster.
John Chandler retired in 1946. Since that time, Meadowbrook Orchards has continued to prosper and grow. John’s youngest son Nathan operated the farm from 1946 to 1970. Nathan focused on modernizing the operation by incorporating newly developed technologies in apple storage and tree growth. By replanting older trees with newly developed apple rootstocks, Nathan was able to produce smaller trees, which were much easier to operate.
The average annual crop has now grown to over 50,000 bushels. While we sell some of our apples through the farmstore, bakery, cider, and other food products, we wholesale the vast majority of our crops throughout the United States, Europe and South America.
David Chandler, Sr. (Nathan’s son), took over the operation of the orchard in 1970. David Chandler, Sr. married Kathy Reynolds in 1971 and today, Kathy oversees the farmers’ markets, CSA, and flower growing operations. David Jr., the youngest of their three children, runs the restaurant, farmstore, bakery and the Thursday night BBQs; he hopes that one of his two children will carry on the tradition.