Our History and Vision
Richard Haas was a “city kid” from Philadelphia, but his dream was “to grow things.” Fast forward, and the dream that Richard built – and grew – celebrated 50 years as Cherry Hill Orchards, a well-known farmers market and garden center in Lancaster County. In his early days in Lancaster County, Richard worked for others, but he always wanted to operate his own business. His determination and persistence fueled his vision for the orchards once he took over the property, which was under the Shenk’s Farm name, in 1970. He renamed it Cherry Hill Orchards. After a first decade of growing, transporting and selling apples and peaches to a farmers market, he built and opened the store building in 1980. Over the years, incremental changes and additions were made. Early on, the operation began practicing conservation and stewardship of the environment. Richard noted how appreciative he is of the many customers over these years. Our customers’ continued patronage allows us to protect and preserve the land, as well as offer families a safe homegrown option. Today, the operation grows 30 varieties of cherries on 23 acres, 45 varieties of apples on 45 acres, and 40 varieties of nectarines and peaches on 45 acres. There are also five acres for sweet corn and five acres for pumpkins, along with acres for plums and apricots.
Growing Through Generations
Over 17 years ago, Richard shifted the day-to-day operations and ownership to his son, Tom Haas. In 2017, Tom was presented with the Outstanding Grower of the Year award by the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania. He has served on the state board and numerous committees involved in research projects to benefit the state fruit industry. Tom learned a great deal about growing and merchandising tree-ripened fruit through working at the family business since he was a young boy. He gleaned knowledge from his father, Richard, a member of the International Fruit Tree Association, who has toured operations in other countries to learn about new fruit varieties and best growing practices. Tom always enjoyed the change of seasons and the different challenges with each, and the various seasons provide the team the opportunity to grow the unique varieties of quality produce that Cherry Hill Orchards is known for, by providing the best possible product with outstanding varieties at different prices to keep up with industry trends. Nearly a quarter of the overall fruit grown on the large property is marketed as pick-your-own (PYO), and about half is sold retail through the Farm Market. The other quarter of the crop, mostly apples and peaches, is sold at wholesale. New varieties are continually planted to be able to offer customers the best flavored, highly colored fruit. Cherry Hill Orchards’ flavorings and colorings are the result of “the growing and picking care taken through a management process where we’ve learned about soil, root stock, minerals, and when to pick – at just the right time – and then get our product into cold storage for sale. All of the various PYO periods throughout growing seasons are popular among Lancaster County families, and creates a great teaching opportunity where youngsters and families, especially, can learn where fruit comes from, and you can’t get it any fresher!
Cherry Hill Today
In February 2020, the Haas family announced a major transition for continuing the current operation and growth of the Cherry Hill Orchards. Tom officially sold the business to two Pennsylvania brothers with a 20-year background in fruit growing. Corey McCleaf and Craig McCleaf are fifth-generation fruit farmers and were partners in a produce-growing operation in Adams County, and were “hand-picked” by Tom to take over his family business. Tom remarked that he admires the brothers’ abilities, knowledge, and work ethic. Corey and Craig are excited for this new opportunity, as they love to help things grow, to harvest them and then sell them to customers who really appreciate straight-from-the-farm fruit. Cherry Hill will always be Cherry Hill, and we are able to continue to offer the quality of products and goodness that loyal customers have come to know. Cherry Hill Orchards employs about 25 people during the summer season, with about 12 in the offseasons. The Garden Center is filled with many varieties of colorful flowers and plants, as well as potting soil and containers, with knowledgeable staff ready to share expertise. In addition to the fruits in season, the Farm Market offers baked goods, jams and jellies, jarred fruits, salsas, honey, assorted beverages, fruit baskets, fruit pies, fresh vegetables, and other seasonal items. Apple cider in season is another popular featured item.