|Location:||Upstate New York|
|Population:||70 (Plus 200 slaves and indentured servants)|
The Orchard is a small community located in Upstate New York, roughly an hour north of The Bronx. The settlement is one of the southern most states pledging allegiance to the Old Lords of New York, and is best known for the apples that grow on the premises.
During Pre-War times, before The Orchard existed, the area was a town known as Somers, located on the border between Westchester County and Putnam County. The area was a suburb of New York City, close enough that residents could commute back and forth, but far enough to leave the hectic hustle and bustle of the city behind every night.
Only miles from the Long Island Sound to the east and the Hudson River to the west, the area was a common escape for residents of the city due to its beautiful scenery and rustic tranquility.
The area was spared a direct hit from nuclear warheads during the Great War, but was destroyed nonetheless. Those that survived the nuclear catastrophe to the south could either flee west into New Jersey or north, into Westchester. Thousands of survivors elected to flee north, causing a refugee crisis. As great masses of people continued moving on, the area was left barren and destroyed, the fleeing refugees like locusts that left annihilation in their wake.
For the next hundred or so years, society struggled to take root in the area. Wanderers and vagrants came and went, and small communities appeared and disappeared, but no major settlements developed. It wasn’t until the 23rd century that The Orchard was founded.
In 2220, Lord Andrew Stuart, formerly of Peekskill to the west, was granted leave from his Lord and given permission by the Old Lords of New York to establish a realm of his own. Though he initially sought to travel further from original home, Stuart was opportunity in the large apple trees that covered the area. He saw money in the fruits, and settled down to begin harvesting them.
Sure enough, as Andrew Stuart believed, there was a great deal of money to be made in harvesting the ubiquitous fruits. Using contacts in Peekskill, he began trading the fruits to points further upstate, as well as into Connecticut to the east and New York City to the west. By the time he died in 2243 and passed on control of the small fiefdom to his son, Bradley Stuart, the operation had made the family thousands of caps.
The biggest crisis The Orchard has faced occurred in 2231, when the Old Lords of New York and the Born Again Nation went to war with each other. The Orchard was attacked and parts of it razed by High Inquisitor Julian Reyes. Damage was relatively minimal, and was limited to only property damage. The two sides made peace and ended the active conflict a few years later, but lingering ill will closed down the border between the two sides. Born Again Nation, and other parts of Connecticut were major destinations for the apples of The Orchard. With that market closed, Lord Stuart had to change his business strategy.
Starting in roughly 2240, more and more of The Orchard’s products were shipped south, into the New York City area. Time and time again, caravans were attacked and goods stolen as they passed through the Bronx. When Lord Stuart realized the magnitude of the problem, and how many caps he was losing, he began to act. Starting in 2247, he began patronizing one of the many gangs in the area, seeking to prop them up into a major regional player and protect his merchant caravans. With better weapons, armor, training, and a handful of mercenaries, he transformed a small group of local gang members into the Empire State Army.
Since then, shipments from The Orchard have arrived in the New York City region with more regularity, and Lord Stuart and The Orchard have reaped the profits as a result.
The economy of The Orchard is almost exclusively based on agriculture, harvesting and selling the apples that grow across the more than 3000-acre settlement. The fruits are picked by the many slaves and indentured servants that work on the site. On average, there are roughly 200 slavesworking on the site at any given time. At times, that number swells.
Thanks to the effects of nuclear radiation, the apple trees of The Orchard are different from most. Normally, apple trees flower and produce fruits in the late summer and early fall. In The Orchard, apple trees flower and produce fruits year-round, including in the dead of winter. This allows the Stuarts to constantly harvest their crop, providing The Orchard with a constant and steady income flow. Radiation has also has had an impact on the kinds of apples that Lord Stuart harvests. While most are what we would consider normal apples, trees across The Orchard produce fruits exceptionally smaller and exceptionally larger than what would be considered average.
The Orchard is governed by Lord Bradley Stuart, patriarch of the Stuart Family. He is the Marquis of The Orchard, and as such, his word is law. The settlement is small enough that he is able to address all matters of state without having to delegate tasks to others.
The Orchard is very little more than a handful of buildings located on roughly 3000 acres of land. Stuart Manor is the largest actual building on the settlement. It is home to Lord Stuart and his family, and is the de facto capital of the small apple picking state. Located near the Stuart Manor are the Townhouse Estates, a small complex of row houses home to noblemen and women living on the site, as well as visitors. Various other buildings dot the landscape, home to indentured servants, and slaves.
Lord Stuart is a member of the Old Lords of New York, and as such, The Orchard has their support and backing. The Orchard is the smallest of the numerous fiefdoms that the organization is composed of, but is an agricultural powerhouse. As such, Lord Stuart carries more power than the modest territory of his holdings would suggest.
Since 2247, Lord Stuart has been funding a mercenary army in the northern Bronx. In the wake of the Old Lords of New York war with Born Again Nation, trade between the two sides became illegal. With most of Connecticut no longer a viable trade partner, Lord Stuart was forced to steer more of his product to south, into the ruins of New York City. After being burned too many times by highway robbery, he began funding the Empire State Army. The Empire State Army was once nothing more than a small time gang operating on the border between the Bronx and Westchester, but with Lord Stuart’s money, the gang evolved into something more. His patronage has provided them with better weapons, armor, training, and mercenaries- many defectors from Bob’s Wreckers- to bolster their ranks, turning them into a capable fighting force.