Let’s face it, Fall is a popular time to get out of the city for a stint and enjoy the beautiful countryside that is just at our doorstep. Since Apple Season is in full swing, I thought I would share my favorite Pick-Your-Own farms. What matters most is that you get the opportunity to change out of your professional gear, throw on some old jeans and sneakers and leave the noise and the stress of the big city behind. Don’t forget to bring your camera because the farm is a great place to capture that family pic for the holiday card. Or, on second thought, leave it behind. No electronics allowed. Just be present and enjoy a day of getting your hands dirty.
The apple harvest in our region lasts from August to December, with the peak in October…so now is the time to get out there!
The most common local varieties are red and golden delicious, empire, idared, jonagold, mustu/crispin, Rome, stayman/winesap, york, fuji, gala and, of course, granny smith. All of which, you can find at your local farmers market throughout the Autumn and Winter months. But, let’s be real, we know you want a bushel of apples to overwhelm your kitchen counter and give you reason to find every possible apple recipe you can to use them up. My favorite, of course, is apple fritters (recipe post coming soon). Yes, they are decidedly not healthy, but we are averting a crisis here! The apples must be eaten!
So here is my list of top farms & orchards to visit in the Washington DC Area while the apples last:
Larriland Farm – 2415 Woodbine Rd. Woodbine, MD 21797 – 30 Acre Family-Operated Farm that uses Integrated Pest Management and Best Management Practices. They have a variety of crops to pick including Apples, Pumpkins, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Beets and Raspberries. They also have an assortment of pre-picked items available for purchase in their Red Barn store.
Rock Hill Orchard – 28600 Ridge Rd. Mount Airy, MD 21771 – Pick-Your-Own Pumpkins, Apples, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Kale, Swiss Chard, Okra, Flowers and Herbs. They also have an on-site creamery offering milk and ice cream from sixty Guernsey Cows pastured on the property as well as a store where visitors can purchase rustic pies, bread, and a variety of pre-picked items.
Crooked Run Orchard – 37883 East Main St. Purcellville, VA 20132 – Small family-owned production only farm. They Grow, You Pick. Apples, Pumpkins and gourds are available during the Autumn Season. On site farm stand where visitors can purchase a variety of local items.
Hartland Orchard – 3064 Hartland Lane, Markham, Virginia 22643 - If you are looking for a kid-friendly environment visit Hartland Orchard on any weekend up until October 26th. They offer a variety of activities including a Corn Maze, Hayrides, Farm Animals, Pumpkin Bowling, and others. They also regularly offer Pick-Your-Own Apples and Pumpkins and visitors can snack on Apple Cider, Apple Cider Doughnuts, Pies, Caramel Apples and a variety of other items for purchase.
Stribling Orchard – 11587 Poverty Hollow Lane, Markham, Virginia 22643 - A sixth generation family farm in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains that has been growing fruit for 200 years! The trees in this orchard are truly ancient, they are the largest I have ever seen. If you aren't just mesmerized by the natural beauty of the property, you might also appreciate the historic buildings, farm animals, pumpkins and a bakery and farm store with hot apple cider. Photos below were taken at Stribling Orchard.
Homestead Farm – 15604 Sugarland Road, Poolesville, Maryland 20837 – Homestead Farm provides a great atmosphere for a weekend day trip. They offer Pick-Your-Own Apples and Pumpkins during the Autumn Season. You can also purchase a variety of other vegetables, pick up a gallon of apple cider or local honey, visit the farm animals or pick-your-own bouquet of Zinnia’s. Hayrides are offered from 9:30 to 4:30 on weekends.
ALSO: Here’s a few tips for the road…
1. it is a general practice that dogs are not welcome at the apple orchard. Don’t worry, it’s not that they are grumpy, doggy downers! it’s just that they have sanitary guidelines that prevent the orchard from being a dog-friendly environment.
2. Be sure to bring some CASH! Many of the orchards DO NOT accept credit cards. You also might get an angry glare for asking if they do. Just stay on the safe side, and on the good side of your farm hosts, and bring along a few $20 bills.
3. Bring a Picnic! The orchard is a great place to have a picnic. Unless you are planning to fill up on apples and cider, we suggest bringing some additional food to munch on. If that just happens to be a gourmet spread of cheeses, cured meats and freshly picked apples, then more power to you!
4. Don’t forget to take a moment to stroll the property. Sometimes, you move so fast through the day that you realize that you didn’t even stop to take note of your surroundings, and they are pretty great surroundings.