“Google” the word apple. The first few hits that come up are about computers, not the quintessential autumn fruit that is said to keep the doctor away if you eat one a day.
I think of an apple, and am immediately transported to an orchard, watching my sons run up and down the rows of trees, sometimes dropping their treasure into our bag, other times biting into the crisp, crunchy fruit. I can smell the apple pie baking in the oven, I can feel my sticky hands after a day of pressing apples into cider, and enjoy homemade applesauce for the next 8 months. We are lucky here in the Great Waterway corridor to have many pick your own apple orchards where we can enjoy a wonderful fall afternoon, and with luck a hot mug of fresh apple cider. Join me on a tour of some of our favourites!
Wynn Farms, located outside the village of Bath, 25 minutes west of Kingston and 15 minutes south of Napanee, is a family-run orchard that was planted 30 years ago by the family. In 2013 they added a corn maze to the fun, and starting early September until the end of October, they offer moonlight corn maze walks every Friday and most Saturday evenings. The drive from Kingston to Wynn Farms along the Loyalist Parkway is a lovely lakeshore drive. After the trip to the orchard, less than 5 more minutes to the east you can take a quick “grown-up” trip into Thirty Three Vines winery, the kids will enjoy climbing aboard the caboose, while you enjoy a sample of wine!
Located just east of Kingston, a hop, skip and a jump away from the Rideau Canal, you will find Waddell Apples; a smaller orchard that is also family run. Boasting a pumpkin patch and an country store (where you can purchase picked apples, a variety of baked treats & preserves, fresh cider and hand-crafted items from local artists) and an observation bee hive, this orchard is a great one for kids, as it is a smaller orchard, you don’t have to stray far from your car to access the trees. After you’ve picked, slip over the Lower Brewers Lockstation for a picnic and a stroll along the water’s edge.
If you want to experience apple orchards on a bigger scale, head over to Hall’s Apple Market in Brockville. Hall’s has been growing apples since 1955, and is now run by the family’s third generation. You have many picking choices here (they grow 29 varieties!), a picnic area and a playground for the kids, as well as a bakery and a gift shop where you can purchase many of their “homemade” apple products; including both sparkling and regular apple cider, apple jelly and apple butter.
In our home, the apple picking season is special. We inherited an apple press a couple of years ago, so trips to the orchards mean we come back with more than the average family. (I can show you what 900lbs of apples looks like!) We spend many hours together grinding, pressing, and then drinking the fruits of our labor. We planted a couple of trees a number of years ago, this year is the first time it appears we may have a wee harvest, but not enough to stop us from visiting one of the many orchards in the region. Maybe we’ll even stumble upon a new one in our travels!