Exploring The Last Green Valley: Get out and enjoy apple season

Exploring The Last Green Valley: Get out and enjoy apple season

“It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.” — Henry David Thoreau, “Wild Fruits: Thoreau’s Rediscovered Last Manuscript”

There is something about biting into a fresh-picked apple that says autumn in The Last Green Valley.

I just can’t get enough of that delicious combination of crunch followed by both tart and sweet taste. I am a true apple fanatic and have one with my lunch most every day.

My love of apples is partly to due to the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and partly to do with how great they taste. They are good for you and taste good, too!

When shopping for apples there are a few varieties that I like. I tend to purchase the trusty Macintosh or Courtland and find them both good for eating and for making applesauce. I also like Paula red, gala and Fuji apples.

My favorite apple is not a specific variety but a more general apple-growing place. As far as I am concerned, any apple purchased at one of our local orchards here in The Last Green Valley is a good apple.

When was the last time you visited a local orchard, picked your very own bushel of apples and paid the orchardist or farmer directly? This weekend is the perfect opportunity to get out with family and friends to one of several orchards open to the public during our glorious month of October.

There are several apple picking opportunities during this Columbus Day Holiday weekend and here are a few suggestions.

Harvest festivals are a great way to visit a local orchard and spend a day in the country.

This weekend I suggest Buell’s Orchard in Eastford or Lapsley Orchard in Pomfret. Both orchards are putting on family-friendly festivals with apple picking, food, music and hayrides. Buell’s will hold its festival Saturday and Monday, while Lapsley’s runs Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Admission is free and the apples are plenty!

Another apple-related event to consider is the Big-Little Apple Festival at the Killingly Grange Hall in Dayville on Saturday. You can enjoy lots of apple-related foods, live music, traditional crafts and more.

On Sunday at the Joshua’s Trust Atwood Farm in Mansfield Center, you can enjoy cider pressing demonstrations with apples from Atwood Farm’s trees. See what it takes to make good old-fashioned apple cider.

There are plenty of other farm-related events this weekend as well including Ekonk Hill Harvest Festival Weekend Celebration at Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm in Sterling, where you can enjoy the corn maze, children’s games, hayrides, barnyard animals, pumpkin patch and much more.

On Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Blue Slope Country Museum in Franklin is hosting Cabot Cheese with an opportunity to learn how cheese is made as well as view antique cheese-making equipment.

On Monday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., you can visit Creamery Brook Bison Farm in Brooklyn to see and learn about the large herd of bison.

All-in-all, this weekend offers up many opportunities to visit our local orchards and farms, to support local agriculture and to stock up on our bountiful harvest of apples.

I think Henry David Thoreau was right that the history of man and apples are connected. If you take time to study and learn about the history and advancement of agriculture, you’ll better understand the development of apple orchards.

Orchards take years to grow, and they require commitment and care in propagation; their development coincides with the settlement of communities and nourishment of culture.

We live in a beautiful part of the world. I hope to see you out and about this weekend at one of our farms. I hope you’ll also join us as we care for, enjoy and pass on this exceptional region we call The Last Green Valley.

Bill Reid is chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 30 years. He can be reached at bill@tlgv.org.

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