***The following is an excerpt from our email newsletter on 09/23/2016. Please sign up for our newsletter here, to have news, information and event schedules delivered right to your inbox. ***
Pick-your-own apples will start tomorrow…err…today, Friday Sept 23rd. Pick-your-own apples will be available anytime during business hours until we get picked out (probably not a problem until later in the season). As in previous years, you purchase a bag and walk out into the orchard to fill it. This weekend we have Jonagold and Melrose available for pick-your-own behind the market. Pick the reddest ones you can find; some of the really green ones are still a little under ripe.
Ok, now the changes. On the weekends, we’ll usually have someone outside selling the u-pick bags, so you hopefully won’t have to wait through a big line. The other change involves the price. This year u-pick will be the same price as buying them in the store, $19/half bushel bag (I think last year you saved a dollar). I’m sure some people will be unhappy about this, but you’re not only getting the u-pick experience, you’re getting a whole bunch of extra stuff especially during the festival weekends, most of which we won’t be charging for. And you’re still getting apples at less than $1/pound. But the main reason for, and your benefit from, the price change is that if you go out and decide (this weekend for example) that you don’t want a whole bag of Jonagold and Melrose, then you can bring the bag back in and fill it with other kinds from the store. The u-pick bag is different than the store bags, so we’ll know you’ve already pre-paid. You can get your apples, and you’re good to go.
We have people every year that want a ton of varieties available for u-pick when they’re here. This will hopefully solve some of that. A quick aside: there are a couple reasons we limit the u-pick to the varieties we do. First, we choose varieties that are good for u-pick…they (usually) ripen pretty evenly, pick easily, are good quality without a lot of seconds, and are pretty popular. Second, apples ripen from early July through November…there aren’t ever more than a few kinds ripe at the same time. Finally, a lot of our orchard isn’t easily accessible and has mixed up rows. It just wouldn’t work for u-pick.
Pick-your-own pumpkins will start on Sunday, September 25th. They will still be $0.35/lb like they were last year. The patch is still sort of in the same place, but a little further and around the back of the new cidery.
The big change here is with the hours. We won’t be able to offer them anytime we’re open, like we do with apples. We will only have the u-pick pumpkins open on the weekends this year (including hopefully some Fridays. I will keep the current week’s schedule posted on our Events page, and the What’s Ripe page). This Sunday, the hours will be 12 – 4pm. The rest of the time, we’ll have a good selection of pumpkins available around the store and on the porch.
There are quite a few reasons behind changing this one up. We’re going to have someone out by the field to help people and to assist in weighing your pumpkins. You’ll also be checking out right there rather than having to come back into the store and waiting in line and all that. This will eliminate having to bring wagons through the parking lot and then having to weigh the pumpkins yourself and keep track of the weight until checkout. The field is also getting farther from the store, so it’s kind of a haul when you have a wagon full of pumpkins. This will probably be the last year that we have the field there as Bent Ladder expands outside. Next year pumpkins might be a stop on the wagon ride.
That’s how pick-your-own apples and pumpkins are working this year. I hope that overall you’ll be pleased with the changes. I know limiting the hours on the pumpkins is potentially inconvenient, but it wasn’t working well the other way. I’m seriously always trying to think of ways to improve your experience with us. I want everyone to love the Orchard as much as we do. Hopefully these changes will help. I’m probably going to be driving most of the wagon rides this weekend, so stop and say hi (or yell at me if you want. Actually, no, please don’t yell). I’ll be in touch again next week with next weekend’s festival activities.