Apple Picking Time

Fall in the northeast is simply spectacular. A deep blue sky comes with sunny, cool days; the leaves, especially

of the sugar maples, change to brilliant colors, beckoning “leaf-peepers” from all over the country. An early autumn tradition in our house is to visit one of the many orchards within a half-hour drive to pick apples; there are many to choose from including Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont and Goold's in Castleton. Yesterday we chose to make our annual pilgrimage to Bowman Orchards in Rexford near Clifton Park.

Since my husband is teaching a class on food this semester, a group of about twenty first-year students accompanied us and we were treated to a tour of the orchard. We learned that Bowman’s is one of the oldest working farms in Clifton Park. The land was purchased from William and
Margaret Shepherd whose ancestors began working the farm on Sugar Hill Road in 1785. An interesting side note, Margaret’s brother John McIntosh (or MacIntosh--both spellings exist), who was born in Schenectady, found his way to Ontario where he discovered the apple trees whose fruit he named for himself. The semi-tart McIntosh apples are now the most-harvested apple in New York State. An old cemetery of the Shepherd family is located in the orchard.

As for the Bowmans, the second generation is now running the farm which has more than sixty varieties of apples on ninety-eight acres.  A new addition is the dwarf tree which takes up a smaller area and yet produces a larger yield than its bigger cousin.  The small trees have to be wired up to posts to keep the fruit from bringing the tree down in the fall.  Colonies of bees are brought in each spring to pollinate the trees.  Our guide Donna told us that you can tell the number of times bees have come to the apple flower by the number of seeds
inside the ripe apple.  The farm has its own weather station to help workers prepare for whatever Mother Nature has in store.  The spraying of pesticides on the trees is done in a judicious manner after insects have been identified and in consultation with fellow apple farmers.  We learned that, just because apples look ready to eat, the only way to tell for sure is by cutting one open to look for the brown seeds inside. Our tour took us to see where the apples are washed, separated by different sizes for sale, stored at 34 degrees, or pressed into cider. There’s a store on the property where cider donuts and other apple products can be purchased.

Many preschoolers come to farms like this one each year. Bowman’s has other plants such as pumpkins, raspberries, strawberries, as well as an array of farm animals. We noticed horses, goats, sheep, and pigs—which were as much of a treat for us as for the small children around.

posted under |


Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home



Recent Comments