Lease of an orchard in Illinois

I was hoping to get some advice about the logistics of leasing an orchard. Specifically, where to find individuals/growers interested in leasing an apple orchard. The orchard is located in Lake County, Illinois and sits on 15 acres of beautiful property. The orchard was operational until about 8 years ago. The orchard closed due to the fact that the owners were too old to continue running the property. The orchard is planted with dwarf and semi-dwarf apple trees. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Eight years abandoned is a very long time. And perhaps before that it didn’t receive the best of care. So an operator is going to think about what condition the trees are in. And how long would it take to get them into a good condition if that’s even possible at this point.

So my question to you would be what does the orchard look like? How over grown are the trees? Is the orchard worth salvaging?

I’d want to be paid to get it into shape until it’s fit to harvest a good crop. Then we could talk about a lease.


What are you trying to accomplish? A profit or just some delayed tender loving care so things don’t continue to deteriorate?

Welcome to the forum Jonathan! By the way you wrote your initial post, are you implying you are the current owner looking for someone to lease your land? Or is it owned by friends/family?

Pictures of the current state of affairs would likely be beneficial for the folks who are more experienced here to help with an assessment.

As others have said more information about the situation would help us help you. Pictures of the orchard and the trees would help assess the condition of the orchard and what is the best path forward. A detailed description of the orchard would be helpful as well.

What are the goals you’re trying to accomplish? Is it to preserve the legacy of the orchard, or protect the land from development or simply to provide retirement income for the owners?

If you were wanting to lease the land for growing corn or soybeans I think you would have an easier time finding someone to lease it. Your going to have trouble finding someone that has the combination of orchard skills, business experience and the capital needed to get an orchard back in production. Illinois isn’t Michigan or New York. Lake county is near Chicago and is a high income/high cost of living area. How much would a person need to make running the orchard to be able to live in Lake county? I suspect it’s possibly more than the orchard would provide as income.

A knowledgeable person looking to lease is going to ask how profitable was the orchard when it was operating? Did it make money from selling apples or mainly from Ag tourism? Why didn’t the owners hire an orchard manager eight years ago when they got too old to run the orchard themselves? Does the lease include use of buildings, equipment, a well or any of the other things needed by a working orchard? Basically they need to determine if the orchard is a viable business or not. Or if it’s not viable in it’s current form how much money and labor and time will it take to get it to that point.


Thank you all for the questions and suggestions. My initial post was perhaps intentionally a little nebulous for privacy reasons. The Orchard was indeed profitable while it was operating. My parents lived and worked on the property and took meticulous care of the land and the trees. As they aged they eventually closed the business but still tried to keep the trees maintained, albeit to a lesser standard. The idea was for them to live out their later years on the orchard. Unfortunately, a string of bad events side tracked that plan and several years have now passed. My mother still lives in the house on the land. I was hoping to lease the land and trees, at a reasonable price, so that I could use that income to subsidize her cost of living. My goal on the lease was not to make an income but rather help support my last remaining parent. Yes, Lake county Illinois is not Michigan and the cost of living is higher. Ideally, I would love to bring the property back to its former condition. Perhaps I will post some pictures in the next couple of weeks when I return. Thanks again for the input.

I am very far from being knowledgeable in the subject but for what is worth here is some food for thought. I’m sure somebody will chime in if I wander off too far off the mark.

Running any business successfully is not trivial, I would stay away from anybody that doesn’t currently own a profitable orchard. That right there should narrow your field of prospective individuals to literally a handful. I would check with local fruit growers associations, 4H organization, heck the yellow pages for orchard businesses. You can then approach those specific individuals and see if they are interested in growing their operation by leasing your land and orchard. Heck just talking to them should provide you an ungodly amount of information about all sorts of things you don’t even know you don’t know.

To further drive the point; successful people are successful in very specific ways. Failure on the other hand can come in an unlimited number of ways. By leasing to an established orchard that knows how to pull success, you stand half a chance of them being both successful as a business and as an orchard. If you make the mistake of leasing the land to somebody with little business and/or commercial orchard experience, well God only knows what can go wrong regardless of how nice they may be or how many good intentions they could have.


Thanks Don. I think that is sage advice! How things change. I remember there used to be several competing Orchards in Lake county when I was younger. They are all gone now. Thanks again.

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