Saturday, September 27, 2008

Picking for Ourselves

There was a great article last year in Slate about how, in purely economic terms, apple picking is a "wasteful scam." History has shown that we don't really care.

Seven years ago -- in our second year in the area -- we first went apple picking as a family, along with our good friends the Wilhelms. We drove to a beautiful patch in the Virginia countryside called Hartland Orchard. At Hartland, apples are sold by the bushel (and they are very liberal about what constitutes a bushel). The orchard has apparently been around for a while, and the trees are large and mature enough to climb up and in. In fact, much of the fun was seeing just how high we could scale in order to reach the really, really big apples. We continued the annual rite with the Wilhelms for as long as they were in the area (before moving to the other Washington). We also went once or twice alone and/or with my brother Tim's family.

In most ways, Hartland is the perfect apple-picking venue. The only problem is that it takes a while to get there. As our family has grown, and the kids' activities have increased, we no longer have the "luxury" of spending the better part of Saturday traveling to and from hill-country Virginia to pick apples. So now, we pick a bit closer to home. The last two seasons that we've picked (we didn't get around to it last year, a fact the children reminded us of often) we have gone to Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Maryland. It's a bit more expensive than Hartland and not quite as "out of the way," but it's a neat place nonetheless. We continued the economically irrational tradition today, after soccer games and in between rain drops, leaving with about 30 pounds of red delicious, golden delicious, gala, and empire varieties. Give me two weeks, and I'll have had my fill until next season.

Some pictures of picking throughout the years:

2002 (Abby was younger then than Ben is now). We don't have any pix from 2001.

2005, with Tim, Crystal and Co. (no pix in 2004, although I know we went). Jen has occasionally made caramel dip for consumption on site.

2006 (first time at Larriland Farm)

2008 (a little earlier in the season than normal, and a little warmer/wetter)

(Pete trying not to think about getting stung by any of the inhabitants of the bee boxes to his rear)

(on-site experimentation is an essential aspect of the apple-picking experience)


Alita said...

What a cool tradition!

Liz said...

How fun. I liked looking at the past picks. That is the way I remember your family 2-3 kids. We went apple picking this weekend at a farm about 15 min. from our house. It was amazing and we came away with 24 lbs of apples at .62 a lb.. Now what do I do with them all? Since you are a seasoned apple picker I bet you have lots of good ideas.