Country Pleasures Farm: an orchard blossoms
In the beginning
… there was a large, old, stone house, weeds, and grass.
And the farmer planted, with a little help here and there.
And Eric said, “I’ll take care of this ecosystem and grow everything organically.”
Lo, the local agriculture community laughed and scoffed.
Stretching those first spindly roots into the soil here was no easy task. There were no certified organic farms in Maryland, nor any certified orchards in the Mid-Atlantic.
Eric planted the orchard, grew the farm and helped grow the Maryland organic program.
With time, patience, and care, a lush orchard grew.
Behold, the trees bore fruit!
The organic community grew.
We are proud to be the first certified organic orchard in the state, and thrilled to be among a growing community of organic farmers and farms!
Our Story Continues …
Willow Oaks craft cider and Wine: small batch, barrel fermented
Eric Rice planted
… the first apples on the slopes of the cornfields at Country Pleasures Farm 30 years ago. Blueberries, black currants, tart cherries, pears followed.
When Eric first inquired about making hard cider on the farm there was no infrastructure to support it. Cider was not wine or beer, there was no way to license us.
Thanks to the hard work of the Maryland Wineries Association, there is now a vibrant and growing community for us!
photos of our craft
In the News: selected press clippings
During the bloody Battle of Antietam in 1862, some of the heaviest fighting between the Union and Confederate soldiers took place in an apple orchard. More than 150 years later, farmer Eric Rice of Willow Oak Craft Cider is working to restore the Washington County orchard using historic apple varieties that would have been grown at that time.
Maryland Farm and Harvest
…amid rolling hills lined with swaths of orchards, is my last stop: Willow Oaks cidery. I enter the English-style barn, and I’m met by Ginny and Aggie, the owners’ rescue dogs. After delivering enthusiastic ear scratches and belly rubs, I check out the drink menu.
Orietta C. Estrada,
Subaru Drive Magazine