'Passing of the torch': Brown's Orchards sells pick-your-own property

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Tessa Boyer, 11, of Felton, center, swims with her cousins Rachel, 8, and Gabriel Hopkins, 7, of Lancaster, in a pond at the former Brown's Orchards pick-your-own operation Thursday, June 10, 2021. Their grandfather, Dave Hopkins, purchased the 100-acre property recently along with Strathmeyer Companies. They new owners plan to continue offering the self-service option along with some improvements. The venture will be named "Orchard Valley Farm." Bill Kalina photo

Mary Brown, the owner of Brown's Orchards spent nearly two years searching for the right owner to take over the 100 acres of apples, strawberries and raspberries that make up the farm's pick-your-own property.

Her search finally ended when Gerry Strathmeyer, a fourth-generation farmer and president of Orchard Valley Farm & Ground Roots, expressed interest and negotiated the $1 million transaction.

Tim Strathmeyer operates a tractor at the former Brown's Orchards pick-your-own operation Thursday, June 10, 2021. His family, which operates Strathmeyer Companies, purchased the 100-acre property recently and plan to continue offering the self-service option along with some improvements. The venture will be named "Orchard Valley Farm." Bill Kalina photo

Brown took over as the owner after her husband, Dave, died in 2018. As a single mother overseeing all operations of the pick-your-own property, marketplace and newly opened wedding venue, Brown said it had become too much to juggle by herself.

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"I had essentially 200 acres of farmland that needed constant oversight," she said. "We had too much land — it was something we didn't want for our own business needs."

An old picking sign sits at the 100-acre property which formerly served as Brown's Orchards pick-your-own produce site Thursday, June 10, 2021. Strathmeyer Companies partnered with investor Dave Hopkins to purchase the land recently. The new owners plan to continue offering the self-service option along with some new features. The venture will be named "Orchard Valley Farm." Strathmeyer and Hopkins co-own Old Forge Family Farm in Airville. Bill Kalina photo

Dave Brown was a third-generation owner of the Loganville staple, and his father and former owner, Stan Brown, had died just a few months before him. 

Mary Brown said she wanted to emphasize that the transaction is a positive one for both her business and the Strathmeyer family — and that she hopes York County residents will support the new owner.

The property, located at 8773 Yellow Church Road, will remain a pick-your-own operation under the new name "Orchard Valley Farm." It should be open to the public at the end of July, Strathmeyer said.

A view at the 100-acre property which formerly served as Brown's Orchards pick-your-own produce site Thursday, June 10, 2021. Strathmeyer Companies partnered with investor Dave Hopkins to purchase the land. The new owners plan to continue offering the self-service option along with some new features. The venture will be named "Orchard Valley Farm." Strathmeyer and Hopkins co-own Old Forge Family Farm in Airville. Bill Kalina photo

"Our intent is to enhance it," he said of the property. "We're looking at adding more fruit and continuing what's there."

In addition, Strathmeyer said he intends to add picnic tables and two fishing spots, as well as raising Christmas trees and kiwis. 

The Strathmeyers have history with York County agriculture dating to 1936. The family owns a Christmas tree farm and a landscaping business, and most recently it partnered with Dave Hopkins to open Old Forge Family Farm in Airville.

Dave Hopkins, co-owner of Old Forge Family Farm in Airville, talks about the former Brown's Orchards pick-your-own operation at the site Thursday, June 10, 2021. He, along with Strathmeyer Companies, purchased the 100-acre property recently and plan to continue offering the self-service option along with some new features. The venture will be named "Orchard Valley Farm." Bill Kalina photo

"It was kind of a left turn for us but still within the agriculture business, so we're familiar with how to spray, fertilize and plant," Strathmeyer said. "It's just now we have fruit trees instead of evergreens."

Going forward, Brown said she will focus more attention to the marketplace and wedding venue, which are located at 8892 Susquehanna Trail.

"We're better suited to selling mostly through the store," Brown said. "It's a perfect passing of the torch."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.