Fall is a truly magical time in New England with fresh produce, beautifully colored leaves and crisp, cool air. No other place in the country can beat the awe-inspiring colors of New England’s landscape this season.
This is the perfect time to enjoy the local flavors of New England. Even better, when you buy locally, you help to reduce your carbon footprint by minimizing the distance that your food is shipped. This time of year, farm stands are overflowing with local fruits and vegetables. Even large chain grocery stores are getting in on the action by stocking produce from small local farms, so check around for the best deals in your area.
Many farms throughout New England offer pick-your-own options for produce such as berries, apples, pumpkins and squash. All ages will enjoy this perfect daytrip. Adults can relax while strolling through the beautiful landscapes and hand-selecting fresh fruit while children can enjoy running through the orchards, reaching high to pick the best fruit and seeing the workings of a real farm. These farms are great outdoor classrooms for children who don’t usually get to see where their food originates. You may be surprised to see that your fussy eaters can’t wait to try the new fruits and vegetables they helped pick themselves. Make sure to grab a seasonal recipe book while you’re out picking, so you can really put your fresh produce to good use.
Apples are by far the most popular choice when it comes to fall fruit picking. One thing to keep in mind is that different varieties of apples ripen at different times during the season. Check to be sure your favorite types are available for picking before you head out to the farm.
There’s more than just fruit at most pick-your-own farms. Farmers know how fast children’s attention spans can stray, so many offer additional activities to keep children busy and parents free from stress. Search for a farm that has multiple activities for your family to enjoy such as animals to pet and feed, hayrides or a playground. During the fall, many locations even set up giant corn or straw mazes.
Smolak Farms in North Andover is a short drive from Boston and offers a petting zoo, face painting, hayrides, pick-your-own fruit and much more. Honey Pot Hill Orchard, located in Stow, is a Middlesex County favorite for good reason. Not only does Honey Pot Hill offer 12 varieties of apples, but it also has hayrides, a maze and farm animals to make it the perfect spot for family fun. If you live in Berkshire County, Green River Farms in Williamstown offers everything you could possibly want in an orchard. After a long day of apple picking, you can visit the farm stand for some refreshing apple cider that is pressed onsite.
In general, the picking seasons for fruit are:
Blueberries – July through mid-September
Peaches – August through September
Raspberries – July through mid-October
Apples – mid-August through October
Pumpkins – mid-September through October
If you’re interested in picking other types of produce, check out the “Farmers’ Market Buying Guide” on the Massachusetts state website: www.mass.gov/agr/markets/farmersmarkets/get_fresh_seasons.htm. Fortunately, many fruits and vegetables are available all the way through the end of October.
There are still many fun and exciting things to do outside this time of year, so put on a sweater and embrace the season! Don’t let the cooling temperatures discourage you from enjoying the wonderful things New England has to offer.