It’s the time of the year when New England apple orchards put out their ‘pick your own’ signs and New Englanders pack up their families on the weekend and go in search of the ultimate apple picking experience. Here’s an admittedly arbitrary sampling of orchards to visit in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts.
Alyson’s Apple Orchard (Walpole, NH) is a can’t miss picking destination in New Hampshire’s Connecticut River Valley. Their pick-your-own orchards are open until Halloween and they also have a very nice farm stand.
During the fall they have several events, including a Chili Contest, Pumpkin Carving Demonstrations, an Heirloom Apple Tasting, and a Halloween Costume Contest. Their website, among other things, lists which varieties of apples are being picked on a particular weekend.
Alyson’s offers lodging for people who wish to explore the area in greater detail, and they also hosts weddings, special events, and corporate retreats.
DeMeritt Hill Farm (Lee, NH). This place is a favorite of my son Matt and his wife Rebekah. If you’re anywhere near the seacoast region of New Hampshire, a visit to Lee is worth the effort. DeMerritt Hill Farm is particularly kid friendly; goats, chickens, horses, pigs, and more.
They offer hayrides, and host birthday parties and school tours. There are pony rides as well, and the fall season is full of events, including something they call their “Haunted Overload.”
There are more than twenty varieties of apples at the farm, and they also have an excellent farm store with many treats available from their own Bakery. For more information, visit my earlier post, Apple Picking at DeMeritt Hill Farm.
Scott Farm (Dummerston, VT). Scott Farm is my personal favorite among the orchards I have visited in New England. The number of heirloom varieties at Scott Farm is staggering, but the Columbus Day weekend Apple Tasting is, in my opinion, the event of the season.
Zeke Goodband, the orchardist, possesses an incredible wealth of knowledge when it comes to heirloom apples, and ultimately, any apple tasting you might go to fits in one of two categories. Either Zeke ran it, or he did not. That’s why we make a point of going to the Scott Farm Apple tasting as often as our schedule permits.
In 2009 my wife and I went on our annual foliage drive and kicked it off with the early Scott Farm apple tasting, see this post for additional details.
Approaching Scott Farm, you’ll drive by Naulakha, the Vermont home designed by Rudyard Kipling, where he wrote the Jungle Books and Captains Courageous and began Kim and the Just So Stories. Both Naulakha and Scott Farm are owned and managed by Landmark Trust USA, a nonprofit that rescues and restores threatened historic properties.Scott Farm was also one of the filming locations for the movie Cider House Rules, where all the apple orchard scenes were filmed.
Apple Acres Farm (South Hiram, ME). Northwest of Portland and tucked away between Sebago Lake and Jackson, New Hampshire, Apple Acres Farm is a great place to visit when you’re in the area.
Their website has a lot of great information and the combination of vintage and modern photographs are enchanting.
At Apple Acres Farm you can also sample homemade apple pie, try some of their fresh cider, picnic at one of the many picnic tables scattered through the orchard, and even do a bit of birdwatching. The orchard began its life in 1949, and it’s tucked well away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Red Apple Farm (Phillipston, MA). In Massachusetts, many of the best foliage drives spend all or some of their time on the Mohawk Trail, which consists of the western portion of Route 2, an east-west highway that runs from Boston to Williamstown. Red Apple Farm is conveniently located in Phillipston, close to the official start of the Mohawk trail, which is in nearby Orange. So it’s a great choice for picking apples during a fall foliage drive.
Red Apple Farm has been owned and operated by the Rose family for four generations, and is a green farm–it is 100% powered by solar and wind energy. There is a farm stand and activities include hay rides, weekend barbeque events, farm animals and walking trails–and of course, PYO (pick your own) apples. You can choose from several different varieties, with additional ones available in the farm stand. Red Apple Farm also has pick your own pumpkins.