It's a Pick-a-thon: 8 Crisp Tips to Make Your Orchard Trip a Hit!

Young girl picking apple from tree

Orchards are a great place to make wonderful autumn memories. Picture your whole family getting bundled up in boots, sweaters, and scarves, stomping through fallen leaves, and the crisp bite of fresh-off-the-tree fruit like apples and pears (and maybe an apple cider donut or two). It’s the perfect way to spend a fall afternoon.

Getting out there is as easy as finding an orchard near you (via this handy search tool) and planning your field trip. Get a head start with these eight tips to keep fall harvest adventures fun, safe, and memorable for the whole family.

1. Choose organic. 

Because you and your kids will likely be chomping into tasty fruit right after you pick it, going to an organic farm (or one with low pesticide use) is a good idea. Not sure if a farm uses organic practices? Give them a call.

2. No ladders needed!

You may be imagining climbing slowly up a ladder hauling a heavy bucket to reach the fruit nestled high in the branches above, but don’t worry. It turns out that today’s trees are much shorter. Most modern orchards cultivate dwarf trees rather than a taller variety—who knew? (You can read more about it here.) These tiny trees are the perfect height for little farmers eager to rake in the harvest.

3. Take along a kid-size bag or basket. 

While it’s true many orchards will have buckets or large bags to help you harvest your haul, they can often be too heavy for little arms, so it’s best to bring a pint-size carrying container just in case. That way, your child can help bring home the bounty herself!

4. Bring a picnic. 

Apple picking can work up an appetite, so packing sandwiches or a picnic spread is a great way to extend the fun. A hearty meal enjoyed outside will seal in the sweetness of the day (add fresh-picked fruit right from the tree and make it even sweeter)!

5. Dress in comfy, warm clothes you can walk in—and don’t mind getting dirty. 

Hunting for the perfect apple will likely require walking through wet grass, mud, or other farm-y landscapes. Make sure everyone is comfortable, bundled warmly for an afternoon outdoors, and wears clothing that you don’t mind getting muddy or sticky.

6. Which apple is ready to be picked? 

Unlike many fruits, apples don’t continue to ripen after they’re harvested, so it’s important to teach your child which ones are ready to be picked and which are still growing. How can you tell? It’s all about the color: Depending on the variety of apple, an apple is ripe for the taking once it’s turned from green to yellow, red, or pink. Ask the farmers who work at the orchard for tips about specific trees and colors to watch for.  

7. Twist, don’t tug. 

Here’s a fine-motor skill to teach at an orchard! The best way to pick an apple is to roll the fruit up away from the branch and give it a twist. Don’t pull straight down from the tree, and never shake branches or the tree itself to avoid damaging it. Explain to your child that plants are living things that should be protected and respected, and that the farmers who own the fields rely on healthy trees to make a living and take care of their own families.

8. Make your own applesauce.

When you get home with your haul, cook up some applesauce. The taste and smell will remind you of your harvest fun every time you take a bite!



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