Large, bountiful, tasty apples await local pickers at orchards




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“We have so much fruit. Every variety is consistent.”

A youngster reaches for a McIntosh apple off a tree in East Bridgewater.

The excessive rain and stretches of heat and humidity we got this summer sparked bemoaning and grumbles from most of us, but the extreme conditions didn’t impact a beloved New England fall tradition.

In fact, local apple growers, are rejoicing as orchards across the state are seeing large, bountiful, tasty crops as crowds of apple pickers start to arrive.

“We have a ton of apples — a plentiful yield I guess you can say,” said Laura Neville, who oversees marketing for Belkin Family Lookout Farm in Natick, which is one of the oldest continuously working farms in the United States. 

At Honey Pot Hill in Stow, General Manager Chelcie Martin, said her father, Andrew, calls this year’s bounty “the biggest, most uniform crop he’s seen in years.” The trees are full of heaping gigantic, round apples — the size helped by all that rain.

“We have so much fruit,” she said. “Every variety is consistent.”

It’s a big change from last year, said Jen Lord, the store manager at Carver Hill Orchard in Stow. Last summer there was less rain, which resulted in smaller apples.

“This is bigger and more plentiful,” she said.

It’s good news for the legions of customers eager to spend a beautiful autumn day in one of the numerous orchards around the state.

And orchard owners are hopeful the alluring selection means they’ll see the size of crowds they had come through last year. While many businesses struggled to draw in customers last fall amid the pandemic, orchards actually experienced record-breaking numbers of people coming through. The expansive outdoor spaces were perfect places to safely social distance while enjoying time with family or friends.

“It was just an opportunity to get out,” Martin said. Honey Pot Hill saw lots of first-time pickers coming out from the city to spend the day. They would stop staff working in the fields to ask how to go about doing the activity, she added.

“There was just so much interest,” she said. “[People] were sick of being inside.”

“Last year was the busiest season we ever had,” said Lord of Carver Hill.  With so many people now vaccinated against COVID-19 and turning back to their routines and socializing indoors, she said, they wondered if business would be slower this year. Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“It’s shaping up to be busy,” Lord said.

Once Labor Day weekend arrives, said Neville of Lookout Farm, customers start really showing up.

“People are starting to think about fall, without a doubt,” she said. “We are in full swing.” 





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