Elly Vaughan started working for Atkins Orchards as the farm manager in 2015. After managing the farm under Atkins for a couple of years, she purchased 100 acres from the orchard in late 2016 and – Phoenix Fruit Farm was born. Prior to working on, and owning her own operation she spent 8 years in vegetable production, and graduated from the UMASS Amherst with a degree in Plant, Soil, and Insect Science. When the position at Atkins Farm opened up, she jumped at the opportunity ‘I saw the position as a place to grow and learn. Now, I have fallen in love with orcharding, and I can’t image any other way.’
The farm has a long history in the community, and has been in orchard production since 1963, when it was purchased by Howard Atkins. Elly continues to maintain a relationship with the Atkins family, selling fruit from the orchard for stores in the greater Amherst area.
Elly’s background is in organic agriculture and she is committed to bringing those same principles of responsible land stewardship and environmental awareness to orcharding. Elly took over ownership of the property with the intention of building on the Atkins legacy of high-quality, local fruit, while bringing new ideas to the farm. Through Integrated Pest Management practices, participation in Red Tomato’s EcoApple program, and encouraging a diverse ecology in the orchard, Elly has significantly reduced the farm’s use of pesticides, and is continuously finding new techniques to improve practices on the farm.
Phoenix Fruit Farm has a vision:
“Over time, the farm will boast a plethora of fruit offerings, constantly striving towards ecological balance. By creating a diverse landscape, with habitats that encourage beneficial insects and a vibrant microbial life in the soil, we will take pest management to the next level, and continue to move away from chemical management.”