Thursday, October 8, 2009

Apple Picking

Pick-your-own apple orchards are one of the origins of food tourism, and a staple of New England. As life in the Northeast became more urban, people began to yearn for farm life and fresh produce. This allowed apple orchards to stay in business in areas that were otherwise converting from farms to suburban lots.

Here is my husband, being hugged by a tree in an orchard just a few miles from our home. Our region isn't suited to Big Agriculture, thankfully. Instead we have small farms that cater directly to their local communities, like this one, called Fairmount Fruit Farm.

This farm is so suburban, in fact, that it exists almost entirely beneath high-power lines.

I grew up playing in meadows beneath such lines, so I am endlessly intrigued as to how such land gets used. Typically around here the land is left wild, but occasionally mowed, which makes it perfect habitat for what are typically transient meadow plants and animals. Putting a farm on such an easement makes more sense than cutting down trees. The double use of land would please permaculturists, I think. (Or at least it would please those who aren't paranoid about power-lines.)

When we picked our apples two weeks ago, Fairmount was mobbed with suburbanites, but even the noisy throngs couldn't keep up with the fruit trees. Thanks to the same cold, wet summer that traumatized the tomatoes and strawberries, overloaded branches were shedding apples like dogs shed fur. The whole farm smelled like cider.

I addition to apples, Fairmont Fruit Farm grows and sells other fruits and produce, and raises sheep and goats, including Tennessee fainting goats. Click the link to see fainting goats in action - but put down your coffee first. These guys are a riot.

My son gave the apple-picking experience two sticky, apple-scented thumbs up, and demands that we go apple-picking again tomorrow, because between the three of us, we have already eaten our peck - ten pounds! - of apples.

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