Each year when autumn hits, my whole family drives about an hour to Barton Orchards in Poughquag, New York, for our tradition of picking apples and pumpkins. Every year about 15 of us do the EXACT same thing—and if we skip any of our routine activities, someone (usually one of my 3 brothers) complains. The start of our adventure begins by taking silly photos then we all make a run for the farm fresh donuts—you can smell those deliciously warm baked goodies from down the road. After we gobble them down, it’s time for apple picking.
Deciding which apples to pick becomes a task on its own. First, find out which apples are ready to be picked then we locate them on the map. We also collect different varieties – locating those good for munching, baking pie, or making applesauce. Once we make our plan of action, we split and conquer. My brothers, parents, sister, brother-in-law, and husband all end up running in different directions—it becomes utter madness!
My kids are so excited to pick the apples, collect them in their bushel bags and though my son won’t touch an apple at home—he’ll sink his teeth into as many varieties as possible when we’re at the orchard.
Once the apples are collected, it’s time to move onto the vegetables. Yes, that's right. I found a local orchard that also allows us to pick apples and vegetables. It also has fun activities for kids like hay rides and a ridiculously huge corn maze. Not only does this make great memories in my kiddos, it also enables me to teach them the concept of farm-to-table.
Last year we collected one of the largest butternut squashes I’ve ever seen. This time around we picked string beans, a pretty large squash, eggplant, peppers, corn and tomatoes. I showed my kids what to look for in each of the veggies and we practiced picking them together. I also explained to them some basic facts about the foods we picked, such as why some peppers are green and others are red. Then we discussed how we will cook them at home.
Last but not least, it was time to choose our pumpkins. We chose smaller pumpkins for the kids to color and decorate the kitchen. Then my kids searched for the perfect pumpkin to carve for Halloween. My husband (as he does every year, without fail) grunted about the weight of the pumpkin as we lugged it all the way to the car.
This seven-year family tradition is one I am very proud of. Not only do my kids enjoy their time at the orchard, but they also learn to value the hard work it takes to harvest fruits and vegetables. I hope my kids will continue this tradition with their own families when they grow up.