This is generally the time of year when apple-picking provides a welcome, yet easy retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city living. But, with an extra-warm summer yielding an extra-early apple season, many pickers this year may have been surprised to arrive at a farm only to discover there were no apples left to pick! But before turning your car around, discover what else the farm has to offer!
Don’t Just Squash It
When we arrived at the Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, one of the first sites we were met with was a big sign reading, “Free Taste Pumpkin Cheesecake”. And how could we resist? Follow that up with homemade apple cider donuts, which were also readily available, and a taste of multi-colored kettle corn, and we were set for an unexpected mini-brunch! And after tasting the cheesecake, we were inspired to head over to the pumpkin patch–which was brimming over with various types of pumpkins and winter squashes to buy, a bouncy ride (for the under-10 gang), and a face painter to boot. Other farms we’d looked into had options to pick late fall raspberries (golden!), peppers, winter squash, mushrooms and more.
A True “Farmers” Market
We’ve been going apple-picking since our child was fairly young, and have been to enough farms to know that each one has its unique attributes. Although this was the first time coming here, they did offer something that I am surprised hasn’t caught on at many others. A portion of their parking/farm space was used to allow vendors to set up a local farmers market! Simple, but smart. It allowed us to taste or purchase anything ranging from locally sourced cheeses, eggs, marinades, dressings and meats, to freshly smoked turkey legs, brick oven pizza and homemade ice cream. More attractions for us, more benefits for the area food artisans.
But Where Are The Apples?
We’d been told we were too late to pick the apples off the trees, but there was plenty of “bin picking” to do. This was a concept I was not familiar with, but it did provide an alternative way to technically allow us to go home with apples in hand. Massive bins of apples that had already been picked off the trees by the professionals were lined up for us non-professionals to pick through as we wouldn’t have been able to reach them if we’d had to get them off the trees. Evidently, this is not a completely uncommon practice later in the season.
However, it wasn’t enough to satisfy our apple-craving kids, so we walked through the orchards in search of trees that still had any apples. That made for a lovely walk, some pleasant exercise, beautiful scenery, and eventually, the discovery we’d been hoping for. A single apple missed up in a tree caught our eye, and it became our goal. With a very tall father hoisting his tall daughter onto his shoulders, that apple became our “Golden Delicious” conquest. We each took a bite and passed it around to savor. As we continued walking, all the way to the very back of the orchard, up on a hill, we discovered a bunch of trees that still had apples on them as well! Had they been missed? Passed over? Were they worm-filled? We didn’t know the answer, and didn’t want to know–we just picked a few to enjoy.
The kids had been eating apples as if they were little animals, taking a few bites and then dropping the apples to the ground. After making our way back down to the farmhouse area, we were happy to let our “little animals” spend time with some of the farm animals. Goats, chickens and even llamas, were all happy to approach their small hands in hopes of a handout.
A sole turkey wondered around separating itself from the rest of the group. Perhaps he had a sense of what may have soon been in store for him at this time of year. As we finally left to go home, the turkey was last seen biting into an apple that had mysteriously fallen into his pen.
Eden Pontz is an award-winning journalist, writer and media professional who served as Executive Producer at CNN's New York Bureau, for more than a decade. She's produced and reported from around the world. She's contributed to CNN.com., Techlicious.com, TravelingMom and blogged for NYC Moms and Technorati. Her humor essay on motherhood appears in the anthology "See Mom Run: Side-Splitting Essays from the World's Most Harried Moms" (Plain White Press). Eden lives in Brooklyn , New York with her husband and tween-aged daughter--who secretly hopes someday her parents, will have the moxie and means to move back to Manhattan.