The 2016 apple picking season is almost upon us in New England, and what better way to experience this fall treasure than to visit a local farm? Here are 10 amazing apple picking farms in New England that are at the “core” of apple greatness — always call or check web sites to find out current pick-your-own availability:
1. Carlson Orchards, Harvard, Mass. This welcoming second generation working farm in one of Massachusetts’ most beautiful small towns features more than 14 apple varieties. Starring McIntosh, Cortland, Macoun, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Ginger Gold, Empire, Royal Gala, Cameo, Jonagold, Crispen, Braeburn, Fuji and Granny Smith, you might also be able to find the elusive “super secret Baldwins” in the beautiful rolling fields with a little effort. Also, Carlson’s apple cider is one of the best we have sampled in New England with a great, full-bodied taste. Top the day off with hot spiced cider, and some apple crisp with a whipped cream topping and you have a wonderful apple-oriented, fall time experience!
Address: 115 Oak Hill Rd., Harvard MA
Phone: (978) 456-3916
Web Site: http://www.carlsonorchards.com/
Interesting anecdote: Carlson Orchards produces more than 500,000 gallons of apple cider annually!
2. Gould Hill Farm, Contoocook, N.H. More than 80 varieties of apples are grown on this family owned and operated farm. The pick-your-own apples from the orchards yield many excellent kinds of apples from Labor Day to Columbus Day Weekends. Located on a hill, the surrounding mountain and rural views are spectacular — some people talk about the scenery before ever mentioning the apples. Gould Farm also offers a terrific offering of other fruits and vegetables, as well as a fine bakery that features homemade apple pies, hot apple crisp with locally produced ice cream, apple cider, hot cider donuts, whoopie pies and cookies. Check out the gift shop, too, with its country store-like selection of jams, jellies, maple and honey. Hayrides typically take place over the weekend.
Address:656 Gould Hill Road, Contoocook, NH
Phone: (603) 746-3811
Web site: http://www.gouldhillfarm.com/index.html
Interesting anecdote: The Associated Press reported in a Sept. 4, 2014, article that New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan picked the ceremonial “first apple of the season” in New Hampshire at Gould Hill Farm.
3. Belkin Lookout Farm, South Natick, Mass. One of the oldest working farms in the country, Belkin Lookout Farm combines a traditional classic apple picking farm experience with a 21st century appeal. An onsite train takes you into the field where visitors can pick amongst 11 varieties of apples, two types of Asian pears, peaches, plums and nectarine, depending upon the time of the late summer and fall season. There’s also a nicely developed kids play area, pony, camel and hayrides, kids face painting and entertainment including singers and musicians. Belkin Farm offers live children’s entertainment every Saturday and Sunday through November 1. Recently, Belkin’s opened up the Lookout Taproom that specializes in pints and tasting flights of our craft cider, fresh on tap.
Address: 89 South Pleasant St., South Natick MA
Phone: (508) 651-1539
Web site: http://lookoutfarm.com
Interesting anecdote: The Belkin Lookout Farm web site shares this piece of fascinating info, at least for fans of history: “In 1650, Minister John Eliot (whose name now graces the town’s Eliot School and the Eliot Church) and a group of settlers paddled down the Charles River in canoes and made their home by the fertile shores of the river (at what is now Lookout Farm).”
4. Mack’s Apples, Londonderry, N.H. This 400 acre southern New Hampshire farm has roots going back to 1732, and today specializes in apples, peaches, pears, pumpkins (30 acres of picking!), and squash, as well as local maple syrup, pies, and honey. The great Farm Market and seasonal ice cream stand selling Richardson’s homemade ice cream really adds nicely to the overall experience. Mack’s U-Pick offers a fabulous apple picking experience with seemingly one orchard after another, typically open from mid-August through November 1st. Maybe the best thing about Mack’s, though, is its welcoming nature. This place hasn’t gone “Hollywood” and instead places a priority on treating the customer well and making the experience fun — that’s the old-time New England way!
Address: 230 Mammoth Rd., Londonderry NH
Web site: http://www.macksapples.com
Interesting anecdote: Mack’s Apples Pick Your Own has been twice selected as the People’s Choice award winner in the Best of New Hampshire edition of New Hampshire Magazine.
5. Sunset Orchard Farm, North Scituate, R.I. Eighteen varieties of apples to choose, free tractor rides around the farm, a kiddy barrel train ride, apple cider, apple cider donuts and candy apples highlight this unassuming farm that knows that a few fall farm delights is better than watering down the experience with too many things. Sometimes the simple approach is the best and Sunset delivers — especially with an excellent pick-your-won experience — especially the apple picking which usually goes from mid August until, well, everything is picked. Call for hours.
Address: 244 Gleaner Chapel Rd. , North Scituate RI
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/sunsetorchardsri
Interesting anecdote: People that are short can take solace in the apple pickers attached to long sticks! Also, none of the fruit are GMO.
6. Brookdale Fruit Farm, Hollis, N.H. This phenomenal, seventh generation
farm stand was established in 1847! I have personally seen the farm stand go from a little roadside shack in the 1960s to a beautiful, modern facility — focusing on organic farming — that hasn’t lost any of its traditional New Hampshire farm presence. This American success story showcases a large apple picking field, hayrides, pumpkins, a corn maze, and a comprehensive variety of farm stand merchandise including local eggs and honey, grass fed beef, pies, jams, bread, cheeses, plants, cooking items, gifts and many New Hampshire made items. They also have an excellent ice cream stand featuring Annabelle’s Ice Cream!
Address: 41 Broad St. Hollis NH
Phone: (603) 465-2240
Web site: http://www.brookdalefruitfarm.com/
Interesting anecdote: New Hampshire Magazine chose Brookdale as the best organic farm stand for 2009.
7. Dwight Miller Orchards, Dummerston, Vt. This eighth generation farm stand with 20 years of growing organic apples offers a farm stand open year-round for crops in season. The location yields a wonderful Vermont rural scene and the chance to pick organic apples is there in the fall, but we urge you to call before arriving to ensure there are apples to pick. The farm stand also features Vermont maple syrup, pickles, small-batch jams and jellies, fresh eggs and pasture-raised pork.
Address: 51 Miller Rd., East Dummerston VT
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/dwightmillerorchards?fref=ts
Interesting anecdote: Travel and Leisure once picked Dwight Miller Orchards as one of “America’s Best Apple Picking Farms.”
8. Big Apple Farm, Wrentham, Mass. Visiting The Big Apple is like a greatest hits collection of traditional apple picking farm experiences. Open weekends in September for apple picking (until the supply runs out), the Big Apple is otherwise open daily and also has an apple grader area that sorts the apples (fun to watch, and with a toy train in motion for an added fun touch!), hayrides, a pumpkin house, bakery (specializing in apple cider donuts, homemade pies, hot and cold cider, and hand dipped candy and caramel apples). To the side of the farm is a hidden, but delightful ice cream stand serving Richardson’s Ice Cream. With 26 varieties of apples, 28 types of vegetables, and pick your own blueberries, raspberries, apples, and hops — depending upon the time of the season — The Big Apple is what one would expect a New England farm stand to look like and offer.
Address: 207 Arnold Rd., Wrentham MA
Web site: http://www.thebigapplefarm.com/
Interesting anecdote: A few hundred feet away from The Big Apple is Mt St Mary’s Abbey (300 Arnold St.), a monastery where nuns make delicious homemade chocolates for sale from their on-site candy making facility.
9. Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, Conn. Lyman Orchards dates back to 1741, making it one of the oldest family owned business in America. In a scenic location overlooking the Connecticut River, the apple picking orchards annually yield an excellent crop with 12 varieties. But wait, there’s more: Lyman Orchards Apple Barrel Market offers “fresh pies, apple cider donuts, muffins, cookies, breads, pastries, and ‘Breakfast on the deck.'” There are also three championship golf courses designed by legendary Hall of Fame architect Robert Trent Jones and Hall of Fame golfer Gary Player.
Address: 32 Reeds Gap Rd., Middlefield CT
Phone: (860) 349-6031
Web site: http://lymanorchards.com
Interesting anecdote: Lymans Orchards is a popular wedding venue with its “red barns, fruit orchards and breathtaking views.”
10. Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield, Mass. This fifth generation farm located on a scenic hill in rural Central Massachusetts has a sweet apple aroma in the air, 17 varieties of apples and enough rows of orchards to keep customers picking typically through Columbus Day Weekend. They also happen to have what we feel is the the best apple dumpling on earth (with either vanilla ice cream or local cheddar cheese), pies and cider donuts and a fabulous, good-sized country store. Brookfield Orchards feels so right whether on a first visit, or repeated ones as we have personally experienced through the years. There’s also a nice, little playground for the kids. The staff is wonderful, too — so friendly to customers as if they were family. Additionally, Brookfield Orchards is open year-round and keeps a good supply of apples for purchase no matter what time of the year.
Brookfield Orchards will be holding a Harvest Craft Fair on Sept. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., that features local artisans, crafters and vendors displaying their homemade items, artwork, services, foods and baked goods. And of course, Brookfield Orchards will be showcasing their welcoming farm with apple picking, a maze, wagon rides, cider donuts, and more.
Address:12 Lincoln Rd., North Brookfield MA
Phone: (508) 867-6858
Web site: http://www.brookfieldorchardsonline.com/
Interesting anecdote: Brookfield Orchards will celebrate 100 years in business in 2018!
More apple orchard info is on the way! Don’t worry, we’ll be covering Maine, too. Check back in often!