Don’t think of Labor Day as Summer’s unofficial end, think of it as the beginning of Apple picking season. Pack the swim suits and the sunscreen away and get into harvest mode. Picking apples is a fun way to spend time with your children, although it can prove to be a great test to your marriage. (“What do you mean you won’t climb that tree to shake loose those apples for your children? I thought I married a man!”) But I digress.
Apple picking is great fun and a great way to get you into Fall baking mode. However, if you’re anything like me, and I hope to God you’re not, you’ll pick way too many apples with the greatest intentions of making home baked pies, tarts, muffins, cakes, fritters, apple sauce, caramel apples, you name it, as a way of bowing to your inner-Martha Stewart and to fill your house with the aroma of baked apples and cinnamon only to have those overflowing bags sit in your kitchen and rot. Although, decomposing apples do give off a terrific apple scent if you can stand the invasion of the fruit flies that comes with it.
Living in Bergen County gives us so many options of where we can go to pick apples. We have the option of taking a long day trip to an orchard and enjoy the changing colors of the leaves, or we can just go to an orchard minutes from our homes. Here’s my listing of apple orchards near and not-so-far. I’ve been to almost all of these orchards, so I can tell you that you really can’t go wrong. Also, I’ve included orchards in New Jersey and New York State. Most, if not all, of these orchards are family run (some in the same family for centuries) and all offer more than just apples. So take one last breath of summer and then get into the orchards and start picking!
NEW JERSEY ORCHARDS
Demarest Farms, 244 Wierimus Rd., Hillsdale
Located minutes away in Hillsdale, this is one of my family’s favorite farms. No matter what the season, there’s always something going on at Demarest Farms. It’s so close to home that you don’t have to sit through refrains of, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” The kids love riding on the tractor-pulled hayride to the orchards, and there’s a corn maze by the market so that the kids can play while you relax or buy some farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, or freshly baked pies, donuts, cookies, and cakes. Also, I bought a cookbook that contains their family recipes--I swear by this cookbook! http://demarestfarms.com/.
Longmeadow Farm, 511 Blairstown Rd., 521, Hope
With over a dozen varieties of apples to choose from, Longmeadow Farm is a great place to take the family for a fun day of apple picking. In addition to an abundant orchard, Longmeadow Farm also has freshly grown produce to purchase in their market as well. It’s a great place to spend a beautiful fall day and enjoy the changing colors of the season. http://www.longmeadowfarmnj.com/.
Alstede Farms, 84 Rt. 513, Chester
Located a short drive away in the beautiful town of Chester is Alstede Farms. Take a hayride, pick a few bushels of apples, visit and pet the friendly farm animals, then stop by the farm market for a refreshing ice cream cone or a drink. And don’t forget to take home one of their home baked pies or quiches before you go home! http://alstedefarms.com/.
Pochuck Valley Farms, 962 Rt. 517
(McAffee Glenwood Rd.), Glenwood
17 varieties of apples to choose from makes Pochuck Valley Farms a great place to pick apples. You can either walk to the orchards or enjoy a wagon ride; either way you’ll enjoy all the colors the season has to offer. Early in the season the apples hang low enough on the branches for a one-year old to pick them. Pochuck Valley Farms also has a farm market where you can buy fresh produce, home baked pies, donuts, breads, muffins and freshly made jams and jellies. http://www.pochuckvalleyfarms.com/.
Hillview Farms, 223 Meyersville Rd., Gillette
Climb the hill to the orchard, but watch out for the chickens and the peacocks that are roaming the orchards. Or, enjoy a scenic hayride into the orchard. Hillview Farms has a great farm market where you can purchase fresh cider, homemade baked goods, and other farm fresh delicacies. http://hillviewfarmsnj.com/Welcome.html.
Lee Turkey Farm, 201 Hickory Corner Rd.,
Family owned and operated since 1868, Lee Turkey Farm offers more than just fresh turkeys. There are hundreds of fruit trees, including apple trees, and acres of fresh vegetables. Lee Turkey Farm also raises 5000 turkeys annually so it’s a great place for the kids to see live turkeys. (Just don't tell them where the turkeys are spending their Thanksgiving!) Don’t forget to bring your camera! http://www.leeturkeyfarm.com/.
Riamede Farm, 122 Oakdale Rd., Chester
34 varieties of apples—from traditional classic, to heirloom, to more modern varieties. You can take a scenic hayride or get your exercise and walk to the orchards. Riamede Farm has a farm market where you can purchase all types of fresh fruits and vegetables, cider, jams, and jellies. Bring a camera and roam around 50 acres to take pictures of nature at its best. http://www.riamede.com/.
Wightman’s Farm, Rt. 202, 1111 Mt. Kemble Ave.,
A family tradition since 1922, Wightman’s Farm has been growing fruits and vegetables for a long time. Take a hayride into the orchard and choose from over a dozen varieties of apples. Wightman’s Farm also sells fresh farm dairy products such as milk, butter, and eggs, as well as fruits, vegetables and plants. Wrightman’s has corn mazes and rope mazes to keep the kids entertained after a day of picking apples. http://www.wightmansfarms.com/.
NEW YORK ORCHARDS
Pennings Orchards, 170 Rt. 94 S., Warwick, NY
Just a short beautiful ride to Warwick, New York, is Pennings Orchards. Pennings Orchards has over 20 varieties of apples to choose from and the orchards offer breathtaking views of the changing season. Many of the apples are grown on dwarf trees making it easy for the little ones to pick apples all by themselves. Pennings offers a hayride into the orchard and they have a petting zoo for the kids. http://www.penningsorchard.com/.
Stone Ridge Orchard, 3012 Rt. 213, Stone Ridge, NY
With over 30 varieties of apples to choose from, Stone Ridge Orchard knows a little something about apples. And they should. Stone Ridge has been doing it for over 200 years. In addition to an amazing orchard, Stone Ridge has a gourmet farm market that you have to check out! http://www.stoneridgeorchard.us/.
Masker Orchards, 45 Ball Rd., Warwick, NY
Farmed since 1913, Maskers Orchards has a terrific apple orchard. And, Masker's is one of the only orchards that allows you to drive right in! You can pack a picnic lunch in the trunk and feast in the orchards while picking apples. Best of all, they allow you to eat all the apples you want while you’re visiting the orchard! http://www.maskers.com/.
Orchards of Concklin, 2 Mountain Rd., Pomona, NY
Farming in Rockland County since 1712, the Concklin Family continues to own and operate this amazing farm. Just minutes from Bergen County, Conklin Farm not only has orchards that offer a variety of apples, but their farm market sells homemade pies, cookies, and cakes made from centuries old recipes. I have tasted many varieties of their pies and I can attest that they are delicious beyond compare! When my family just wants a quick place to go on a fall afternoon during the weekend, Concklin Farms is our go-to place. During October, they have a haunted house, inflatable slides, and other exciting offerings to keep the kids entertained. http://www.theorchardsofconcklin.com/
Dr. Davies Farm, 306 Rt. 304, Congers, NY
Another orchard located just minutes off the Palisade Interstate Parkway in Rockland County, Dr. Davies Farm has 4000 apple trees on 35 acres. Family owned and operated since 1891, I can personally tell you that when every other orchard has closed for the season, you’ll still be welcomed at Dr. Davies and they will have an abundance of apples still to choose from. A few years ago we went late in the season and every other farm had signs “No More Apples,” but Dr. Davies had more than we could pick off the trees! Also, the house has an amazing history of people who have lived there, so be sure to ask! http://drdaviesfarm.com/.