Outdoor Pursuits: The Perfect Fall Date
by Christine Peets
Whether you've been going for years or it's your first time, heading out to an orchard to pick your own apples just might be one of the best Fall activities.
Jennifer Kane and her boyfriend Ryan Morton have made it a tradition to go apple picking at Paul Watson's Farm in Bowmanville for the past eight years. “It's my favourite Fall Date,” Jennifer says. “I love the wagon ride to the orchard, and there's so many things to do with the apples. I find the cost is cheaper than the grocery store, plus I get a date out of it. Families make it a “date” to go to the orchards too.”
Last year, for the first time as a family, Jeff and Tricia Cammaart went with their three children, Jeff's parents, and his sister and her family to go apple picking. They visited The Good Farm in Centreville, north of Napanee, and it was the first time for Allen Good and Cathi McNeil running the orchard, even though the farm's been in the family for many years. Everyone had so much fun that they'll be doing it again this year.
“I really enjoyed everyone coming out and helping them to find just the right apples, ” says Cathi. Visitors to the farm are given a map to the orchards and asked what kind of apples they are looking for. “Everyone has their favourites and we like to try to please as much as we can.”
Tricia says her older kids have their favourites, so they liked finding those trees. “Our youngest just liked picking the apples; he didn't really care what kind he was picking.” The Cammaarts went apple picking on Thanksgiving weekend, which is close to the end of the season, but there were still plenty of good pickings.
Thanksgiving is a popular time to go because that's often the only time families can get together, says Dianne Campbell. She and her husband Colin have been running The Campbell's Country Farm Market in Carrying Place, near Belleville, since 1982. “We have had second, third, and even fourth generations of families coming out to pick with us,”Dianne says. The farm also welcomes school groups and the Campbell’s teach the kids about the varieties of apples, and how to pick them.
Dianne says she loves seeing families coming out. Colin designs an Adult Corn Maze and a Toddler Maze every year, and people can win prizes if they are able to figure out the design. There are also wagon rides. Picking starts in mid to late August and will go well into October, weather permitting, Dianne says.
The weather may make a difference as to what's available for picking, and when it's available but Shelley Lyall says she's seen people come out rain or shine to Mountain Orchards, in the Kemptville area, south of Ottawa. Late September to mid-October is the peak season, but they get started in August. Wagon rides are offered from the gate to the orchards, where staff will direct you for picking. Shelley's husband Bob is usually back there guiding people in the orchards or to the three-kilometre walking trail. The trail is a relatively new feature on the property Shelley and Bob purchased in 1974 with their business partner Bob Hobson. They've also added a playground and tether ball court to keep families amused.
“Another big attraction for everyone is our barbecue and bakery,” says Shelley. “People may arrive hungry, but they never leave here that way.” At the bakery there are home-made apple pies and apple pastries, and the specialty on the barbecue is the locally made apple-infused sausages. There are also locally produced items in the market.
While some orchards are very busy with lots going on, sometimes it's nice to keep things simple, which is what Jim and Sarah Wynn do at Wynn Family Orchards on the Loyalist Parkway west of Bath. They have a picnic area and a corn maze, but the apples are really the attraction they know everyone comes for, and the Wynns have started a program of giving back to the community while reducing waste. They encourage visitors to pick to their heart's content, and then the Wynns finish the job.
“Last year we picked our orchard clean and donated approximately 4000 pounds (100 bushels) of apples to the food bank,” says Sarah. “The apples were distributed to soup kitchens and about 40 agencies through a local food bank. Apples were given out free of charge as a healthy food option for individuals and families in our community.”
Getting out to a local farm to pick apples supports the orchard, and the local community, but the main reason to go is that it's a lot of fun. As Jennifer Kane says, “it's the perfect fall date.”
DID YOU KNOW?
You can enjoy all types of activities at the Brighton AppleFest which has been running for more than 40 years. The fun is from Thursday, September 22 to Sunday, September 25. Applefest committee chair Christine Waterhouse says there will be a Street Fair, Parade, Car Show, and the Lion's Club Children's Village. Of course, there will be vendors selling apples and other fresh produce. For more information, visit brightonapplefest.ca or call 613-475-0670