Tuesday, January 30th, 2024 | Progress made on our zoning petition at the Orangetown Town Board meeting.

The delayed public hearing for our zoning text amendment which would create the path for us to reopen Rockland Cider Works was opened last Tuesday, January 23rd, at the Orangetown Town Board meeting. This was the next step in the process, and we’re grateful to be moving forward. Everyone who wished to speak on the matter was given an opportunity to do so. The board then paused the meeting to discuss the issue amongst themselves in private, then returned to give their opinions and decision on what to do next. As expected, the board members expressed concern about specific details of the amendment. The next steps are to continue negotiations with the town board to address all these concerns and come up with a version of the amendment that is mutually agreeable. We greatly appreciate the town board members’ work on this issue and look forward to working together to continue moving this forward.

Thank you so much for all your continued support. From the well wishes to the emails, and especially those who were able to come to the meeting in person to show and voice their support, it all makes a huge difference and helps tremendously in our continued efforts. Our supporters at the hearing spoke positively and constructively about Van Houten Farms and Rockland Cider Works and their hopes to see both continue to survive and thrive here in Orangeburg. Much of the opposition, in contrast, continued to fabricate a distorted picture of our cidery operations that simply didn’t exist, while also resorting to increasingly nasty personal attacks.

We ask anyone with any legitimate concerns, please look past the ugliness and see this situation for what it really is. The farm needs to continue to evolve and grow if it is going to continue to exist (and this includes Silver Rock horse stables, if Van Houten Farms goes away, so do the horses!). The cidery was a perfect addition to our farm operations. It gave us another New York State agricultural product to sell, it brought more people to the farm during more times of the year who bought more of all the items the farm grows and sells, and it was tremendously popular with customers and the community. We thoroughly understand the potential challenges that the impacts of the cidery could potentially present to the neighborhood. We are our own neighbors; we share the same concerns. This is why we aggressively addressed and mitigated all these issues. And now this zoning amendment would legally require us to continue to do so. This is a win for everyone.

If anyone has any concerns that you feel have not been addressed or have any questions that you wish to discuss in a constructive manner, please contact both us and the town board members via email. You can also reach us through social media, or feel free to drop by the farm. To our opposition that is truly concerned with what is best for the town and the neighborhood and is not simply fighting a personal vendetta, please come to the table and be part of the resolution instead of perpetuating this hostility and negativity. No matter what the growth of the farm looks like, whether it’s a cidery or a pumpkin patch or apple picking or any other retail agricultural endeavor, the farm has to grow, or it will die. The purpose of our efforts and this zoning amendment is to minimize the impacts of that growth. So, instead of this destructive environment that we’ve degraded into, let’s come together and talk about solutions and compromise.
Thanks again to all our great customers and supporters. We will continue to post updates as soon as we can.

Click here for Background on Van Houten Farms and Rockland Cider Works and how we got to where we are today.


Darin Van Houten
Van Houten Farms
Rockland Cider Works
68 Sickletown Rd.
Orangeburg, NY 10962

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024

The public hearing for the zoning text amendment that will pave the way for the reopening of Rockland Cider Works is back on schedule for today, Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:00 pm at the Orangetown Town Hall. As many of you know, our hearing was originally scheduled for November of last year, but due to the use of delaying tactics by the attorney representing our neighbor, our November hearing was forced to be postponed. While our neighbor has continued their efforts to have the hearing canceled indefinitely, a judge has ordered that the hold on the hearing be lifted.

We apologize for the late notice. Since the postponement of the original hearing date in November, our attorneys have been in and out of court in order to allow the hearing to be rescheduled. We just received the official go-ahead Monday evening. And yet even as I write this, our neighbor’s attorney is continuing efforts to try to shut down the hearing.

We know many of you were planning on attending the meeting last fall, and several of you still did, and still more of you emailed the Orangetown town board members. Thank you so much. Now, we’re asking again and hope that everyone who is able to attend today’s meeting will come and share your positive words of support for Rockland Cider Works and the future of Van Houten Farms. Please let the town board know how you treasure Van Houten Farms, appreciate the benefits that Rockland Cider Works brings to the community, and wish to see the farm, along with the cidery, continue to be a staple of lower Rockland County.

As we have stated countless times, the farm needs to evolve and diversify in order to survive and thrive. The ability to do this is the only reason Van Houten Farms, and any other farm in New York state, exists today. Rockland Cider Works is the perfect evolutionary step for Van Houten Farms. The cidery gives us the means to produce and sell another New York state agricultural product, therefor diversifying and expanding our sales. It also brings more customers into the farm during more times of the year, helping us spread out the ever-increasing costs of labor and overhead. The cidery not only provides the community with more opportunities to interact with the farm in an outdoor, family-friendly environment, but also provides opportunities for customers to visit with family, friends, and neighbors. Additionally, the cidery provides an additional tax revenue stream for the town and attracts more visitors to the local area who also visit nearby restaurants and other businesses. The cidery provides all of these benefits, while also helping to preserve the very last bit of farmland in Orangetown, and one the last 3 remaining family-operated farms in Rockland County. In short, Rockland Cider Works is a win-win-win-win!

As we have stated since the beginning, we completely understand and appreciate any issues that the cidery may bring to the neighborhood. We have already successfully addressed and mitigated these issues voluntarily. We live right here too, we’re our own neighbors. We, as much as anyone, treasure the quiet, quaint character of the Nauraushaun neighborhood, of which the Van Houten’s farm and other businesses have been a pilar since 1812. The proposed zoning text amendment officially provides legal parameters under which our farm cidery can operate in order to avoid any problems.

There is no reasonable objection to this zoning amendment. It satisfies all interests by allowing Van Houten Farms to continue to grow, providing the community with the benefits of Rockland Cider Works, and ensures any concerned neighbors that the impacts of our farm operation remain minimal.

Thanks so much for the endless words of support and encouragement. Again, we understand this is very short notice, but please consider attending the Orangetown Town Board meeting to continue to share your support for Van Houten Farms and Rockland Cider Works.

Click here for Background on Van Houten Farms and Rockland Cider Works and how we got to where we are today.

Orangetown Town Board Meeting
Tuesday, January 23rd, 7:00 pm
Orangetown Town Hall
26 W Orangeburg Rd
Orangeburg, NY 10962

Thanks again,


Due to an 11th hour slimy move by the attorney representing the neighbors who are fighting to shut down Van Houten Farms, our long-awaited public hearing scheduled for tonight at the Town of Orangetown Town Board Meeting has been postponed until January 23rd.

The motion filed is baseless and frivolous and was entirely intended to undermine all the hard work done by the town, us, and our supporters. It was purposely filed at the very last minute so we would not have time to respond to the judge before the public hearing was torpedoed and the damage was done.

There should be no doubt now that the neighbors’ arguments hold no water and that there is overwhelming community support for Rockland Cider Works and Van Houten Farms. The zoning amendment addresses every litigate issue concerning the operation of our farm cidery. This backhanded legal move is a desperate attempt to derail our attempts to save Van Houten Farms and preserve its place in the Orangetown community.

Our lawyers will be in court this week to clear this matter up. We’ll post more details as soon as we have them.

Thank you so much for all your support. We’re so very sorry we must try to hold back all this momentum and good vibes. We will continue to fight.

Thanks so much,

After 3 years of setbacks, we finally have some good news.  The Orangetown Town Board has voted to hold a public hearing on our zoning text amendment proposal.  This is the first big step towards the town adopting zoning legislation that will allow for farm cideries and pave the way for Rockland Cider Works to reopen!  But, in order for this to happen, WE NEED YOUR HELP!  We need as many supporters as possible of Van Houten Farms and Rockland Cider Works to attend the Orangetown Town Board Meeting on Tuesday, November 28th at 7:00 pm.  If you don’t feel comfortable speaking, just your presence will help show the town board how much support there is for the farm and cidery.  Even better, for any who are willing to speak, please come and share how much you value Van Houten Farms and Rockland Cider Works and that you wish to see the farm continue to be a cherished part of the Pearl River community.  If you can’t attend in person but would still like to help, please email your support to the Orangetown Town Board members at the link below.  All customers and supporters of Van Houten Farms are welcome and encouraged to attend and email, but Orangetown residents specifically, your positive words mean the most.

The farm needs to grow, evolve, and diversify in order to survive, there’s no other way around it.  The cidery provides opportunities for us to do all those things, while at the same time providing customers with more opportunities to interact with and enjoy the farm.  The only way farms like ours remain sustainable all throughout the country, but especially in New York State, is through agritourism.  The bottom line is that we need people coming to the farm to purchase the agricultural products we produce, that’s simple economics.  However, from June of this year, over 3000 less customers have come to the farm than in the same period last year when the cidery was still open.  We need more customers coming to the farm throughout more times of the year if there’s any hope for the farm to continue to be here.  We fully understand and appreciate the challenges this may present.  That’s why, going back to the very first days of the cidery, we have been continuously recognizing and mitigating all opportunities for problems.  And now, this proposed zoning text amendment officially provides legal parameters in which we can operate the cidery that address any reasonable concerns and are mutually agreeable to both us and the town.

Click here for Background on Van Houten Farms and Rockland Cider Works and how we got to where we are today.

This has been a very long and taxing journey.  We would like to recognize and express our gratitude and appreciation for the hard work done and compromises offered by the Orangetown Town Board in order to keep this process moving forward and bring us to this point. We would like to thank Councilman Paul Valentine for leading this effort.   Again, we ask all who support us to please plan on attending the November 28th Orangetown Town Board meeting.  And whether you are able to come in person or send in your comments via email, please remember to keep your words positive and constructive.

Thanks so much for the overwhelming support and kind words you have given us over the last 3 years.  There is finally some light at the end of the tunnel.  Please keep the good vibes and support coming while we see this through to its hopefully fruitful end.

Orangetown Town Board Meeting
Tuesday, November 28th, 7:00 pm
Orangetown Town Hall
26 W Orangeburg Rd
Orangeburg, NY 10962

Follow this link below for contact information for the Town of Orangetown Town Board.
Town Board | Town of Orangetown
In your email or letter to the Board, please be sure to note in the subject or memo:
“My comment to the public hearing regarding Van Houten Farms zoning text amendment originally dated 11/28/23, now postponed to January 23, 2023.”  This ensures that your email or letter to the Town will be officially ‘of record.’

Click Here to Sign The Petition

Click here for Background on Van Houten Farms and Rockland Cider Works and how we got to where we are today.