A New England Tradition of Apple Cider Goes Back in Time
An autumn tradition around much of America is harvesting apples and making cider, and somehow doing it the “old way” makes it taste even sweeter.

Thatcher Fields annual apple pressing for cider Vermont
Thatcher Fields has restored the water-powered cider mill and begun annual pressings.

Near Woodstock, Vt., the Fields family bought a beautiful 233-acre Vermont horse farm called Ogden Mill which just happened to include a derelict water-powered mill and cider press. After the family renovated the 1790-era house which had served as a tavern and inn, Thatcher Fields turned his attention to restoring and bringing the old mill back to life.

See the video of 2021’s pressing by Jeff Arnold:

A visit to the mill

Jeff Arnold tells us about his visit, “On a sunny Sunday in October, we visited the Field’s family’s Ogden Cider Mill in action. The water wheel and the equipment that run the belts to grind and press the apples and pump the juices from the lower vat to the upper ones were originally constructed in Hartland in 1916. Herbert Gouverneur Ogden, a graduate of Williams College, purchased the mill in 1945 and moved it to his house on Lull’s Brook in Hartland, Vermont, in the early 1950s. Herb served four terms as a state senator from 1970-80 and was responsible for organizing the cutting of the three main trails up nearby Mt. Ascutney.

“In the 1970s, you could pay Herb 25 cents a gallon to press your apples. After Thatcher Fields restored the mill, he began to invite locals to bring their apples and press them. The pressing has grown to a popular annual event in Autumn. The grinder, on the first floor, is powered by water that comes through a 36-inch-wide penstock or canal from a holding pond that is 10 feet higher in elevation than the wheel.

“The steel wheel is 13 feet in diameter, 6 feet wide and holds 1.5 tons of water. As you can see in the video, it is an intense experience to be standing under the wide belts racing overhead. The racks of apples are raised against the press and the cider pours through a metal screen into a big vat and is then pumped upstairs to other storage vats on the floor above, where you can fill up your gallon containers. It was an amazing experience!”

Jeff Arnold runs Aurora Daycare Center with his wife in Wilder, Vermont, and previously ran projects to assist the Afghan people in agriculture, resettlement, sanitation, and water supply.

See a photo gallery below.