The pears are all gone along Hi Gait Farms Road in South Glastonbury, Connecticut. The trees were chopped down right after the September harvest. Decades old roots yanked from the fertilized earth. Over one hundred acres, 12,000 fruit trees and no more pears grown at Belltown Hill Orchards.
I’ve walked by these pear trees, decorating the hill side, their fruit hanging heavy from branches. These giant, earthy, odd shaped orbs dangled in clusters, like an old aunt’s chandelier earrings.
I wish I photographed them. I wish I sneaked one to eat, tugging at its stem that held on tight through rain, hail, pesky insects and high winds all so I could taste a juicy bite. I wish I bought bushels of them to make poached pears, pear tarts, pear streusel, pear dumplings, roasted pears with red onions and pear pie.
“Pears are out of style,” explains Don Preli, a fourth generation farmer of this beautiful land, “People want apples and peaches.”
New peach and apple tree saplings will be planted in the spring to replace the old pear trees. Maybe some Pink Ladies will start to sprout because according to Don, the MacIntosh apple is no longer in vogue.
Don tells me about the wholesalers haggling for a cheaper price for the orchard’s blueberries, cherries, and apples. The wholesalers don’t think about Don and his brother and son spending eight hours a day throughout the winter pruning each tree by hand. The wholesalers don’t worry about a rainy spring turning the cherries to mush. The wholesalers don’t care about the expense of a wind machine keeping spring frost off fledgling crops. The wholesalers don’t care about the Mexican workers who leave their homeland and family for months to net the entire orchard to protect from birds and then harvest all the fruit they sell.
Sunny days throughout the summer bring flocks of families to shop for produce from the farm rather than the air conditioned grocery store aisles. Each individual walking along the rows of well loved and maintained trees wants a taste of a simpler life, an organic life with nothing processed or contrived. Just goodness.
If only these visitors and day trippers knew the pears along Hi Gait Farms Road were becoming extinct. Maybe like me, they would have wished they picked more pears.