There’s Something Special about Harvest Season

  • David Ginisi

They’re huge. They’re cheery. They’re sure to make you smile.

Sunflowers are blooming throughout North Central Massachusetts this fall. Fields are filled with the sun-shiny blossoms. And while it’s awesome to just stand there and drink in all that cheerfulness, the experience gets even better.

You can pick these flowers and bring that brightness right into your home! Two local farms — Red Apple Farm in Phillipston and Hollis Hills Farm in Fitchburg — have gone big on these oversized flowers, dedicating entire fields to the pick-your-own experience.

But showy as they are, the sunflowers are just the tip of the fall harvest season across the region. 

Let’s face it: you’re tired of being cooped up and are looking for a safe, fun-filled, family adventure. What better way to get some fresh air, give the kids a chance to stretch their legs, and forget for a while the pandemic, than to travel the backroads of North Central Massachusetts to stock the pantry with the freshest of fresh foods?

Something for Every Taste

Bright orange pumpkins of every size — from tiny orbs that toddlers can hold in their hands to heavy globes that will give your muscles a workout on the way to your car — sit in the fields, waiting to become Halloween decorations or luscious pies.

And then there are the apples — dozens of varieties that can be transformed into applesauce, pies, cakes … or simply eaten out of hand for a healthy snack. Remember the old adage: An apple a day keeps the doctor away? It’s easy to stock up on weeks, or months, worth of healthy eating at orchards throughout the region. Sholan Farms in Leominster is open daily for pick-your-own fun — and you can check their website to see which apple varieties are likely to be available when you visit. Carlson Orchards in Harvard, too, offers tips via facebook on what produce is ready for picking.

Looking for something different to pick this year? How about grapes? Lanni Orchards in Lunenburg offers a beautiful palette: Seedless red, green and dark purple clusters ready to tempt your taste buds.

The Living is Easy

And there’s so much more to stock your pantry with — even without the effort of filling a basket or bucket with farm-fresh treats. Most farms and orchards have their own stores, filled with a variety of fruits and veggies. Roadside farm stands, too, are piled high with healthy foods, fresh from the fields. And don’t forget the farmers’ markets! Many communities have a space that’s set aside (usually one day a week) for not only farmers, but also local gardeners who have extra bounty to sell.

Need a little more incentive to take a trip to the farm? How about a bit of live entertainment — or maybe a bit of lunch or a BBQ dinner? Picking those fruits and veggies can work up an appetite, and you can satisfy it right there on the farm, often with a live band providing background music.

Harvest season is a great time to tour the farms and farmstands of North Central Massachusetts, where flowers, food and fun await your visit.