So Many Apples

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So Many Apples …

The folks at Sholan Farms in Leominster will tell you that the Macoun is the “cream of the crop.”

Some folks, though, swear that biting into a crisp Gala is the ultimate in apple-eating pleasure. Still others stick by the old standby, the shiny red McIntosh. Fortunately, the orchards of Johnny Appleseed Country offer something to please every palate.

Autumn is a special time in Johnny Appleseed’s back yard. Fruit hangs heavy on the trees, and families head into the orchards to enjoy the bounty of the season.

There’s nothing like a day in the fresh air, when the exercise of picking is rewarded by baskets brimming with gleaming fruit. Scores of apple varieties can be found in local orchards: McIntosh, Macouns and Idareds for eating; Lodis and Baldwins for making sauce; R. I. Greenings, Spartans, Romes and Crispins for pie-making; Winter Bananas, Kings and Arkansas Blacks for baking…and more…await your pleasure.

Consider this: The Red Apple Farm in Phillipston offers 42 different varieties of the fruit that earned Johnny Appleseed his nickname! And Lanni Orchard in Fitchburg has been in operation for 50 years!

Cream of the Crop
Sholan Farms, a 169-acre orchard run operated by a volunteer organization, has more than three dozen varieties ripening from mid-August till late October. But the Friends of Sholan Farms celebrate the “Cream of the Crop” — their Macouns — in late September. It’s a great weekend to visit and see all that Sholan has to offer.

But you don’t have to wait for a special event to visit a “you-pick” spot like Hollis Hill Farm in Fitchburg. Apple season begins in July and runs right through October, so there’s always something great to pick. Many orchards and farmstands also have climate-controlled storage, so you can keep coming back for more, even after the pick-your-own season is past.

The hardest part might be deciding just what to take home! Every orchard or farmstand has its own specialties — and side by side with the fresh produce, you’ll often find
home-baked pies, fresh-pressed cider and other apple delights.

Recognizing the desire for family outings in this bucolic countryside, many farms and orchards turn apple season into festival season as well — with music, hayrides, scarecrow-making, pie-baking contests, and other special events.

So fill your basket, relax to the sounds of a local band, tour the fields, take a ride in the hay wagon, and enjoy your adventure in Johnny Appleseed’s backyard.

photo courtesy of Latrice Cooper