The orchard was originally part of a larger 187-acre property, which was bordered by Il Route 176 and Sunnyside Road to the east. It included 157 acres of farmland and 30 acres of wooded land. The Bauman Brothers owned and operated a dairy farm for many years. They built the stone foundations for the older buildings, dated 1902, from boulders cleared from the planting fields.
In 1957 the Wilkens Family moved from Elmhurst to the property, which included a country house, many farm buildings, and access to the nearby town of Woodstock. Their first venture to raise mink was brief because it proved to be labor intensive with little income. The family decided to instead farm corn and soybeans. And they did successfully for the next 34 years.
In 1989 James and Sue Hong purchased 150 acres of cornfields from the Wilken’s family. They commuted from Arlington Heights every day to enjoy the fresh country air and plan the future of the farm. The following spring, the Hongs planted 20,000 evergreen trees as a windbreak surrounding the farm. This agriculture planting method protects the crops, increases the temperature of the farmland and adds breathtaking scenery. They also planted a couple hundred-apple trees, but the trees did not do very well initially. In order to realize the dream of an orchard, James attended Kellogg Apple School at Michigan State University, read many books and attended several seminars on the subject. In 1993, 3000 apple trees were planted and joined by an additional 4000 trees the following year. The orchard trees did exceedingly well, and the Hong family moved to Woodstock to develop the orchard.
As the apple trees continued to grow, so did the amenities on the farm. James applied his degrees in landscape architecture and architectural engineering to develop a landscaping business. He designed the rolling fields into the beautiful scenic backdrop you see today. In 1997 the Farmers Market was built to offer guests seasonal décor, kitchen tools and refreshments.
In 2008 the Apple Barn was built to house the educational school tours and accommodate large functions such as graduations, reunions, family and company picnics and fundraisers. It has been our honor to host wedding ceremonies and receptions. It was here the Hong’s two daughters were married. The orchard continued to grow in 2008 and an additional 4000 apple trees were planted on the east side of the farm. Former owner Eleanor Wilkens still visits the orchard every year. She states, “Presently the farm has changed measurable to suit this generation. It is a joy to see this new generation use the land for various uses.”