New Hampshire

One of New England’s Best Apple Orchards Is for Sale

Ready to make a sweet life change? Alyson’s Orchard, an idyllic property in Walpole, New Hampshire, could be yours.

By Ian Aldrich

Jan 09 2020

Alyson’s Orchard Farm

The farmstand in fall at Alyson’s Orchard.

Photo Credit : Courtesy of Coldwell Banker
It’s not often an iconic New England property hits the market, so when we heard that Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire, was up for sale, it definitely piqued our interest.
The farm stand at Alyson’s Orchard.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Coldwell Banker
The property, which is home to nearly 100 acres of trees with some 50 varieties of apples, spans 354 acres and includes a farm stand, farmhouse, event center, conference lodge, and private airport (!) with a 1,300-foot runway. Susan Jasse, who started Alyson’s with her late husband, Bob, is asking $3.2 million for the whole shebang. “I’m hoping someone can come and run the business and continue what we started,” says Susan, who lives next door to the orchard and is still very much a part of the operation (on prime weekend days, she often helps on the pick-your-own side). “We made the business a good one, but I’m tired now and want to retire.” Alyson’s sits 30 miles west of the Yankee offices in Dublin, New Hampshire, and many of us have made visiting the orchard at the height of autumn a seasonal ritual. In fact, a trip to the big farm — which sits on a lofty hill with commanding views of its home state as well as Vermont — is a high point for countless New England residents and visitors who want that quintessential apple experience. The orchard is considered one of the most recognized heirloom apple farms in the Northeast. Over the years it’s been a regular honoree in Yankee’s Best of New England travel issue, and it recently cracked our lineup of New England’s best apple orchards. And in 2008, Alyson’s was the setting for one of our all-time-favorite autumn covers.
The views from Alyson’s Orchard extend deep into New Hampshire and Vermont.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Coldwell Banker
Its hometown of Walpole has long inspired dreamers and makers. In the 1850s a young Louisa May Alcott lived here, and the town helped inspire her novels Under the Lilacs and Little Women. Later, novelist James Michener rented a place in Walpole to write Hawaii. Downtown is where you’ll find the popular Restaurant at Burdick’s as well as the makers of those award-winning Burdick’s chocolates. Perhaps most famously, Walpole is home base for filmmaker Ken Burns and his production company, Florentine Films. The origins of Alyson’s Orchard go back to the early 1980s, when Bob Jasse, a biologist and former tech CEO who’d always wanted to do some farming, went searching for a retirement opportunity. He wound up purchasing several hundred acres of retired dairy land after seeing the property while flying over the region on his way to a family skiing holiday. “It was virgin ground. It never had apples,” he told TheBoston Globe in 1995. “It had rich, fertile soil, but it’s heavy soil, with a little clay in it, that had to be drained.”
The farmhouse at Alyson’s Orchard.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Coldwell Banker
Bob, who passed away in 2008, was an unlikely orchard owner. He had endured a hardscrabble upbringing in his native Revere, Massachusetts. His father went to jail when Bob was just a boy, and for a time it seemed as if Bob might follow in his dad’s footsteps. He flunked out of Medford High School and was arrested before turning 17, but he avoided jail time by joining the military. He eventually finished high school, then college, and finally earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In the early 1960s Bob helped form what became a successful manufacturing company that specialized in electromagnetic interference shielding and insulation materials for the military and the telecommunications industry. By the time he sold the firm in 1985, he had already started Alyson’s. (The orchard is named after the youngest of his seven children, who died as an infant.) “[Bob] saw this big chunk of land that he thought he could turn into an orchard,” says Susan, Bob’s second wife. “He jumped into it. He built the ponds and built the roads. That’s what he was. He was a builder.”
Yankee’s September/October 2008 cover, shot at Alyson’s Orchard. Photo by Sara Gray
What began as a retirement hobby, however, eventually became a full-time business. Alyson’s thrives as a result of its hilltop location, which allows cool air to escape down the sides come spring — a fact, Bob liked to say, that made the property practically “immune” to losing a crop from frost. Today the orchard itself is run by Homer Dunn, a true-blue New Englander who takes tremendous pride in his fruit. He grows all the usual favorites but has a soft spot for rare heirlooms like Ashmead’s Kernel, Hudson’s Golden Gem, Belle de Boskoop, Reine des Reinettes, and Esopus Spitzenburg. The orchard also grows peaches, plums, nectarines, and berries. The success of what the Jasses created can be seen on weekends throughout the fall, when visitors flock here for their apple-picking fix. They roam the rows of trees, take a seat near the farm stand for the live music, and linger for lunch. Kids monkey around on the playground, while the adults peruse the farm store. Now, maybe all this — the property and the loyalty it has engendered over the past four decades — can be yours. “It’s a beautiful place,” says Susan. “And it means a lot to the community. I’d love to see that continue.” Alyson’s Orchard is listed with Penelope Seaver at Coldwell Banker. For more information, visit the property listing.