An apple a day: Picking season approaches for orchards
Sept. 2, 2020 | The Reminder Publishing News Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
WESTERN MASS. – As crisper days set in and summer comes to a close, we round the corner into autumn. For New Englanders, often this time of year brings on thoughts of drinking pumpkin flavored beverages, heading out to a pumpkin patch and subsequently carving those glorious fruits.
We cannot, however, forget about apple picking season, which is also synonymous with fall.
Though we had a dry summer this year, many local orchards are still opening their doors this apple picking season for pick-your-own. With that said, this year may look a bit different than a traditional apple picking season, as COVID-19 restrictions must be put into place to insure the safety of pickers.
Reminder Publishing reached out to some local orchards to find out whether or not they’ll be hosting an apple picking season for the public, and what safety measures they’ve put in place for their guests.
420 Russellville Rd.
Sue Kosinski at Kosinski Farms in Westfield said that they will have pick your own apple picking starting the weekend after Labor Day but she was unsure if they would have any more fall festivities.
“We will not be having the petting zoo, or the corn mazes this year. I love having the face painting and seeing the kids play in the yard but I’m not sure I want to put people in danger by holding those events,” she said.
While Kosinski Farms will be offering apple picking, Kosinski said the process would be different this year.
“The orchard’s up the street so in the past we had people park at the farm stand and load up into a wagon to go to the orchard. This year we’re probably going to have people park at the orchard and pick their apples on their own and come browse the farm stand if they’d like to,” she said.?
Kosinski Farms is open through Oct. 31, Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Bashista Orchards &?Cider Mill
160 East St.
When contacted, a representative of Bashista Orchards and Cider Mill said, “The spring was too cold and-windy for good pollination in our orchard. We will not be having pick your own apples this year in order to have enough fruit for our regular accounts.”
With that said, the orchard does have some pre-picked apples available at their farmstand.
According to their website, Bashista Orchards and Cider Mill’s store is open year round, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Park Hill Orchard
82 Park Hill Road
At Park Hill Orchard, groups of fewer than five visitors can book a day of apple picking, though larger groups can be accommodated by calling ahead.
Picking appointments start every 20 minutes. Visitors let the orchard know the group size and picking intentions in the comments field when booking online.
The orchard has also set up a 24-hour pick-your-own hotline at 303-0335.
Apples are $20 per peck and $35 per half bushel. Parking is free.
In addition to picking apples, visitors can purchase pre-picked fruit, cider slushies, pies, cider donuts, soups and fudge are often available at the farm stand.
The orchard has put limitations in place to maintain an healthy picking experience. Only four people are allowed into the orchard per peck bag or half- bushel. There is a limit of one child between the ages of 4 and 12 per adult or three children per adult couple.
Masks and distancing are required at the orchard and they ask that anyone sick or are considered at-risk as identified by the CDC – including those who are over the age of 65 or those who have severe underlying medical conditions – stay home.
A schedule of what apples are ready to pick is available at www.parkhillorchard.com/apple-varieties.
The Apple Place
540 Somers Rd.
Apple Place co-owner Neal Normandin said though their 1,600 trees produce between 25 and 30 different varieties of apples, the current planting style of their orchard doesn’t allow for visitors to pick-your own, but they will find ample opportunity to mix and match different types of apples to make their own bag of fruit in the Apple Place’s barn. “We just picked the Zestar,” he said, an early variety of apple.
The Apple Place also offers other reasons to visit, such as its bakery which produces fresh-made “pies every day, cider donuts every day, and we mix up the case for muffins and bars every day,” Normandin said. The day’s varieties are posted on the Apple Place’s Facebook page daily. Normandin said the Apple Place’s creamery offers hard ice cream flavors from Maple Valley Farms in Hadley, and this summer added eight flavors of soft-serve ice cream.
On Sept. 12, Normandin said The Apple Place will open its corn maze in a COVID-19, socially distanced format. “It’s a tribute to first responders, there’s a doctor, a nurse, and the words ’thank you’ across the top of the maze,” he shared. Normandin said plans are to have visitors pre-register and buy time-specific tickets to help the annual event adhere to all current health precautions, including mask-wearing.
The Apple Place will also be continuing its Thursday and Friday night live music concerts through September, Normandin said. A schedule of performers, plus information about the 2020 corn maze is available on their website, www.theappleplace.net and on its facebook page.
The Apple Place is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Thanksgiving.
Rice Fruit Farm
757 Main St.
Olivia O’Connor, a server at the restaurant at Rice Fruit Farm, said the farm would not be offering pick-your own apples this season, but that the farm stand’s bakery would be offering fresh-made pies and cider donuts, and the creamery would be offering fall-themed treats including “pumpkin and pumpkin-Oreo flavored” ice cream.
Rice Fruit Farm is open every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Echo Hill Orchards & Winery
101 Wilbraham Rd.
Echo Hill Orchards and Winery in Monson kicked off their pick your own apple, fruit, and sunflower season on Aug. 29. The season will last through September and October as long as their crop and the weather permits.
Though the pick your own season will carry on at Echo Hill, due to COVID-19 restrictions and health concerns, the orchard will not be running their tractor rides, and private events and field trips will not be permitted for the fall season.
In addition to the pick your own apple season, the orchard’s winery will be open. On the weekends, Labor Day and Columbus day, the winery will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with serving ending at 5 p.m. COVID-19 restrictions will be enforced, and there is a new protocol for seating and contactless payment at the winery. For information specific to seating, food and drinks, table time limits and more – head over to their website at echohillorchards.com/winery.
The orchard is open Wednesday through Sunday, and is also open on Labor Day and Columbus Day. Hours on Wednesdays through Fridays are 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays Sundays, Labor Day and Columbus Day, the orchard will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Easy Pickin’s Orchard
46 Bailey Rd.
Located on a quiet, residential street in Enfield, Easy Pickin’s has plenty of late-summer apples for the pick-your-own-experience – Paula Reds, Zestars, Ginger Golds.
After picking apples, visitors can shop for other fresh fruits and vegetables in the open air produce market.
There are also activities onsite throughout the season, including hayrides, make-your-own scarecrow and a gourd-hunt.
To stop the spread of germs, the orchard is sanitizing commonly touched areas and asks visitors to wash their hands before picking and shopping. There is a sink next to the portable toilet, with soap and paper towels.
Visitors are also asked to social distance and allow one person per family to check out at the stand. Masks are required on farm property.
Although the orchard has containers for picking, people can bring their own clean bags and containers.
The orchard accepts credit and debit cards, but prefers cash or check. Pets are not allowed per state regulations, but strollers or wagons for children are welcome to take for a family picking experience.
Easy Pickin’s is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Tuesday and Thursday, they have evening hours from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and will be open Labor Day, Sept. 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Call 860-763-3276 or visit www.easypickinsorchard.com for more information.