Apple Picking: Some Ideas for the Early Birds

Weston’s apple orchard: not yet ready for primetime

What is it about a 51-degree morning that makes one think of apple-picking, flannel shirts and cider donuts? Do not even pretend that is not you, because it is. While pumpkins are still outlawed as decor until October 1 (I have noticed a few people lining up for major fines), apple picking is wholeheartedly recommended as a family-friendly pursuit. Also I cannot possibly live without back-to-school Facebook photo posts unless we begin the next cycle which is the apple picking and basket photos. Also pie. Also bring me some cider donuts.

There are countless orchards in our area, including Weston’s own (no apples currently available) and the mother ship of them all, Honey Pot Hill Orchards which is not for the novices. Oh fine, you can do the latter but just know it is the best-known in the area and in my experience, the most crowded. Cool maze though.

Now, since I can’t move on to apple recs without mentioning hard cider, know that some of the orchards have hard cider (that would be the alcoholic kind, kids) which the Owl always tries to like, but never does. Love apples, love fizzy drinks, hard no on the hard cider. Yes, those colonists planted trees and worked really hard at them since 1629, but well, no. It turns out apple cider was often drunk by the colonials because fresh water could be hard to come by. I somehow feel that half of New England, including kids, spent most of the winter just apple martini’d up. What else can you do when it is dark seemingly 20 hours a day? Ugh, winter cometh.

October at Carver Hill

Anyway, back to happy thoughts of apples and donuts. Top spots according to the Owl:

  1. Lookout Farm, Natick. With Weston connections, why wouldn’t you crunch and munch local? You can pay in advance, reserve a picnic table for dining post-picking, and even listen to some live music.
  2. Carver Hill Orchard, Stow. A small family-owned orchard, this is the Owl’s favorite. Less whizz-bangy but has a nice veggie farm stand, acres and vistas, and warm apple cider donuts.
  3. Carlson Orchards, Harvard. Great picking, lovely location and yep, this is one of the hard cider barn places. Designate your driver and off you go.
  4. Honey Pot Hill Orchards, Stow. The whizz bangy one. Giant green maze, hard cider tent, hayrides, farm store and yes, apple-picking too. This one is imperative to go early.
  5. Bolton Spring Farms, Bolton. Okay, so I have never done the pick-your-own here but I am a major fan of their donuts and their farm store in general. They are cash only, BTW. This location is right next to one of the best hikes on the 117 corridor, called Lime Kiln/Rattlesnake. Earn your cider donut.

You can usually check which apples are being picked when on the orchard websites or facebook pages. Bring your camera and your flanneled families, but leave Fido at home. Most, if not all, local orchards do not allow dogs in their apple-picking areas so know before you go.

Happy September weather!


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