McCollum Orchards is a 100-acre farm in the City of Lockport, New York. First established in April 1827 by brothers Joel and Hiram McCollum, the farm has seen many changes in its nearly 200-year history. Six generations later, it is still in the family.
The Next Chapter
Now, the farm is growing again. Rich Woodbridge and his wife, Bree, moved to Lockport in 2011. With Rich’s father, they started McCollum Orchards, LLC and have worked ever since to preserve the McCollum home and restart the farm.
Farmer Rich grew up in Princeton, New Jersey and spent his childhood summers at McCollum Orchards with his grandmother, Josie Carveth Woodbridge. Farmer Bree was raised on a citrus orchard in Phoenix, Arizona. They both have Anthropology degrees, which led to jobs in archaeology, advertising and the U.S. State Department.
They were married in 2008 on a historic ranch in Monterey, California. From 2009 to 2010, Bree and Rich worked in Chennai, India, at an economic development research institute.
After years traveling and working around the world, they returned to the U.S. looking for a place to put down roots. Little did they know it would be real roots in Western New York.
After Grandma Josie passed in 2009, they visited Lockport to pay respects. Walking around McCollum Orchards was like stepping back in time. It was overgrown and in need of repair, but underneath that was a gracious and well-built farm. The idea that they might be able to save this special place soon took root. After a long pros-and-cons list, they jumped in with both feet.
To keep the property, they had to start the farm while learning to farm. They took classes through Cornell’s Northeast Beginning Farmer Project, read many books and talked with farmers, including some neighbors who had worked on the farm.
Since then, they have learned they enjoy farming and have even become teachers and mentors to beginning farmers. Rich and Bree have grown more than vegetables, too. The family has added three cats (Isis, Gobi, and Miso) and an Australian cattle dog (Ruby). In January 2014, they welcomed their first child and the farm’s 7th generation — Amelia Wrenn Woodbridge. In June 2017, they welcomed a second daughter, Lenora Adele.