Jan 1, 2023
In 2015 Scott Seeberger says he and his brother Todd Seeberger had a thought: “What would it be like to own an apple orchard?”
In 2015 Scott Seeberger says he and his brother Todd Seeberger had a thought: “What would it be like to own an apple orchard?” Scott had 15 years’ experience selling Apple technology and Todd had spent 20 years in the healthcare IT industry. With frankly no experience in farming, that July they purchased their first apple farm - Windy Hill Orchard located in Oneida NY.
The previous owners had spent seven years bringing back an orchard that had been abandoned. It still needed a lot of work and soon those owners were exhausted and looking to sell and move closer to family. The Seebergers say that when they first found the orchard for sale in Oneida, it was love at first sight. The small manageable orchard was just what they were looking for to “get our feet wet.”
From 2015 to 2019 the duo continued to manage and grow the farm in Oneida County. They brought on Scott’s older sons, a nephew, and friends to help. They wanted to keep a small family feel while offering more activities for the youth. They started a fall festival that drew crowds from all over the area.
In May 2019, deciding it was time to grow Windy Hill, the brothers purchased another apple orchard in Castleton in Rensselaer County. Scott and Todd were both born and raised in Castleton so this was an exciting opportunity to come home. “We both had memories of going to the orchard as we were growing up,” said Todd Seeberger.“This was an exciting new opportunity for us that our family could be part of and also keep true to the property as an apple orchard.”
Since then, the Seebergers have worked tirelessly transforming the orchard to a new go-to orchard in the Capital Region. They remodeled the farm store, added fire pits and Adirondack chairs throughout the orchard, offer free wagon rides, free corn mazes, and many more exciting attractions. “It’s cool to be home,” Seeberger added. “It’s fun to come back and be a part of the community at this level.”
Last year the brothers were looking to grow the business further but were struggling with the red tape and puzzling processes of getting state funding. So the Seebergers reached out to HVADC and soon received Business Technical Assistance from experienced HVADC consultant Brian Zweig. Zweig was able to help the farm acquire Empire State Development funding through a New York State Consolidated Funding Application. With a $200,000 grant recently awarded, the farm has begun a two-fold plan that includes expanding their packaging facility and cold storage, and the renovation of a barn into a cidery/event space.
“My background allowed me to leverage my experience from a project management standpoint,” Seeberger said. “We have grown quick but we are trying to do more. This is a tough industry. Costs are way up, labor is way up. It’s a struggle.”
Seeberger said he was very happy to get the help needed to pin down the capital that would allow them to grow. The process is complex and he said it should be easier, not just for him but all farmers. “Without Brian we would have been lost completely,” he said.
“The Seebergers have an inspiring amount of drive to make their orchard the best it can be,” said Todd Erling, HVADC Executive Director. “We were pleased to be able to facilitate the Business Technical Assistance they needed to turn their plans into reality. It’s true that the process of securing financing is frustrating and complicated for farmers. Thankfully we have amazing professionals like Brian to help get them what they need.”
To learn more about the Business Technical Assistance that HVADC can provide farms and food producers visit https://www.hvadc.org/incubator-without-walls.