We visited an apple orchard last night. We had to hustle so we weren’t able to take any pictures, but it was great! My wife and kids had gone before with some of her girlfriends, but this was my first time. I wanted to share my thoughts about it.
1.) Buying apples at an orchard is not more expensive than the store.
I had always thought this to be the case, but in reality this place was less expensive per pound than the big grocery store chain around here. Granted you have to pick them yourself but that’s more fun than choosing between 5 kinds at the store that are from Washington or New Zealand anyway. (They had them picked too if you didn’t want to do the work) I’ve been buying them at the farmers markets, but going into the orchard is a lot more fun. And they have free samples. I think I ate 3 or 4 whole apples sampling different flavors. The Song of September flavor was our favorite. If you were willing to buy them off the ground (and I was but we didn’t have enough hands to carry all the necessary buckets) you can get them for just under half what they cost from the tree. Now that’s a good deal!
2.) Kids will surprise you.
My wife said the first time out there the kids whined a lot about all the walking, but this time (I think it was a shorter amount of time though) they had a good time running around the trees and picking the apples. Until the baskets got too heavy they carried them and they took great pleasure in closely inspecting all the smushed apples and looking at the sweat bees. And they ate plenty of apples. It was honestly one of the more enjoyable experiences that I remember having with the boys. Give it a try with your kids. They may not think it is that cool at first but you can make it cool for them, well, unless they are teenagers and then you are just out of luck. You’ll never be cool to them.
3.) Sometimes strange things happen
When we were walking out to leave we were leaving one section of trees and crossing a bridge over a creek. We stopped to watch the water as boys like to do and I had noticed a guy walking around out there without a basket and eating an apple. He walked by the bridge so I waved to him. He waved back and came over. He turned out to be part of the family that owned the orchard. He was doing his final walk through inspection and he spent a ton of time standing there talking to us. We talked about apples for storage (Gala and Honeycrisp and to buy them now at their freshest and they will last 10-12 months in the fridge) and our favorite (Song of September, his too) and how he liked working with the trees. He said he spent a lot of time walking around the orchard looking at the trees, determining what’s ripe and eating apples to “try them” (he eats up to 20-30 a day. I feel bad enough with the 6-8 I had yesterday). It was great talking to the person responsible for growing the trees you were eating apples from and he showed such great pride in them. You know what else was great? He walked the orchard instead of riding a 4 wheeler around (it was so quiet and tranquil) and he readily plucked apples from the trees and ate them while he was walking. It shows me that he is concerned about what is put on the trees and he must be comfortable with what is put on them or he wouldn’t just pick them and eat them. We learned a lot about his orchard and apples in general just from a 5 minute walk back to the office area. Neat experience. They even use soy bio-diesel in all their farm equipment and the house that his parents live in above the office is a passive solar designed house. Good to be around people with similar ideals.
4.) Cars can’t ruin every experience
Even in the middle of the orchard there were people who chose to drive around the orchard to pick their apples. This disturbs me. Have we gotten this lazy in America that we can’t even walk around an orchard? You drive up to the tree, get out, pick a few apples and then get back in the car? I did see one family that had two little babies in car seats, and I’ll give them a pass because that would be hard, but the rest should be ashamed of their behavior. I can’t believe the orchard people even let people drive back there, but of course they don’t want to turn away customers. But even cars back there couldn’t ruin the experience. Of all the places I expected to have to deal with cars the middle of an orchard is pretty far down the list.
Have you thought about going to a local orchard? Check out your local paper for classified ads about orchards; usually in the “good things to eat” section or they may run a special ad in the paper. It’s the perfect time as the weather starts to cool down again. I know we are going back at least one more time.