About Belltown Hill Orchards
A Family Rich History of Delicious Produce
The History of the Farm
Belltown Hill Orchards is set in the scenic, rolling hills of South Glastonbury. One of Glastonbury's oldest and largest farms, the orchard was founded in 1910 by the Preli Family, and still today, Belltown Hill Orchards is a family farm, now owned by Donald Preli, Jr. and Michael Preli, with their wives, sister,add son, daughter, nephew, and mother all working on the farm.
In 1904, Louis Preli at age 14 emigrated from Northern Italy to South Glastonbury to work with his uncle hewing railroad ties from the giant chestnut trees which once dominated the area. By the age of 20, Louis saved enough money to purchase seven acres of land where the Farm Market and Bakery is now located. Here he made his home, raised a family and grew a variety of crops and livestock for his own use while continuing to make railroad ties.
A few years later, several more acres were added atop Belltown Road, which led to East Hampton known as Bell Town, and hence the orchard got its name. This land was all wooded and Louis with some help had to clear it all by hand. Strawberries and peaches were then planted and then sold to wholesale markets. When Louis' son, Donald, was old enough he was able to help plant more fruit trees and as he became an adult the orchards were then passed on to him.
In 1959, Donald married Donna and together started a family, raised four children and expanded the orchard. The retail Farm Market was then added in the 1970's occupying one of the original buildings built by Louis and it is still located there today.
Pick-you-own at Belltown Hill Orchards
More acreage was purchased in the 1980's which allowed the farm to grow a total of 120 diverse crops! The Pick-Your-Own operation was introduced and they still continued to supply their wholesale accounts. The Preli family all worked together to keep their traditions strong.
In the 1990's the orchards were then passed down again to Donald's sons Don Jr and Michael, the present owners. Many new features were added again to the farm. A wind machine was placed inside the orchard, the 1st in the state, to help prevent frost damage in the spring. A vineyard was planted, "Perelli Vineyards" and named in honor of their Grandma Preli. One of the last projects of the mid-late 90's was the addition of the bakery, tempting the palettes of all with Farm Fresh Baked pastries.
In 1990 the orchard was passed down to Donald’s sons, Don Jr & Michael, the present owners. Many new features were added to the farm over the next few years. The orchard which was primarily old standard trees were converted to higher density more productive trees, with varieties that were more in demand. Nectarines, Sweet cherries & blackberries were added to the market. Three wind machines were installed to protect tender fruit from springtime frosts, trickle irrigation systems installed to protect from summer drought, while minimizing water usage. A bakery was added to the farm market, along with a modern remodel of the market.
Today, Don Jr & Michael still farm the orchard, but with the fourth generation by their side. Don Jr’s Daughter Lauren & son Don III along with his nephew ben keep the orchard thriving. Donna is still currently involved in the market as head baker. Don & Mikes sister Dorothy is still a familiar face managing the farm market. Wives, Husbands and numerous relatives work the Pyo fields to keep this a true family farm.
As time goes by, things change, but for over 100 years Belltown Hill Orchards has remained a family passionate for growing quality fruit.
The Preli Family
Belltown Hill Orchards