Looking to get out of the office and into the fresh air? Been meaning to do more physical activities and eat more fresh fruit? What about getting in some fun outdoor activities with the family before the cold weather hits? Picking your own apples is the perfect way to check these items off your list.
Franklin County has orchards dotting some of the most scenic landscapes in Massachusetts. Pick from century old trees located in orchards that have been in the family for generations or from newer experimental orchards. While you’re at it, take a break, bring a picnic lunch, and take in the scenery or refuel at some of the orchard restaurants. Here are four of our favorite pick your own spots.
Clarkdale Fruit Farms
303 Upper Road, Deerfield, (413) 772-6797
Pick Your Own daily 9am-5pm
Farm Stand open daily 8am-6pm
This fourth-generation family fruit farm located in the beautiful hills of Deerfield grows heirloom apple varieties from trees planted by the first generation of Clarks in1912. As true New England farmers, the Clarks are not ones to rest easy and continue to plant new varieties every year. Clarkdale offers eight pick your own apple varieties to choose from including Macintosh, Ginger Gold, Gala, Empire, Cortland, Macoun, and Jonagold. Looking for that hard to find variety that you won’t find in your local supermarket? The Clarks actually grow over 40 apple varieties including Esopus Spitzenburg, Wolf River, Akane and Pound Sweet. If you’re looking for more for your cornucopia, their farmstand, open 8am-6pm daily, also carries pears, nectarines, plums, grapes and more. They accept credit cards and SNAP EBT. While you’re there, don’t forget to take your picture in front of the iconic Clarkdale apple.
Let’s face it, there are only so many whole apples you can eat, so they conveniently have a few tasty recipes on their website like Lavinia’s Apple Lemon Custard Pie
New Salem Orchards and Preserves
67 South Main Street, New Salem, MA, (978) 544-3437
Pick Your Own Saturday and Sunday, 9am-5pm
Spectacular view overlooking Quabbin Reservoir? Check. Location on a farm established in 1750 with 125 year old fruit trees? Check. A barn with fresh pressed cider, just baked cider doughnuts, local cheeses, preserves and apple butter? Yup. You’ll definitely want to bring a picnic lunch and make a day of your trip to this orchard in the historic town of New Salem. The views here are spectacular year round but for a real treat, come at the peak of foliage where you will likely find friends and neighbors savoring hot mulled cider in the barn kitchen. If you hit it right, you may find a pop up cider or vinegar making workshop.
Bear Swamp Orchard
1209 B Hawley Road Ashfield, 413-625-2849, 413-768-7989
Organic Pick Your Own and Hard Cider Tasting Room open Fridays - Sundays, 10am – 6pm
Stroll through this ten year old small family-owned certified organic solar powered orchard perched on a hilltop in Ashfield with panoramic views that span Vermont and New Hampshire. With more than 60 different cultivars in varying degrees of production, the Gougeon family grows many great heirloom varieties. Since 2010, the family has focused on identifying new apple varieties that have seeded naturally and grafting them into the orchard.
This is definitely a picnic worthy spot and while you are there, say hi to the chickens and Shetland sheep. Aside from apples you will also find hard ciders, sweet ciders, vinegar (raw, un-pasteurized, untreated), jams and jellies, baked goods, and maple syrup. In case you did not get enough of a workout while you were picking, the orchard borders the Trustees of Reservations Bear Swamp Reserve which offers miles of scenic hiking trails and views of its own.
Pine Hill Orchards
248 Greenfield Rd, Colrain, MA 413-624-3325
Pick Your Own Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm and Monday holidays
Restaurant open Monday – Friday, 6am-2pm and Saturday and Sunday, 7am-2pm
Matt Shearer, a member of this family-owned 75 acre orchard in Colrain, says people come for the apples but stay for the animals. After picking Macs, Courtlands, Jonagolds, Spencers, Honey Crisps, Macouns, and Galas, he finds visitors lingering for hours at the pond with the cows, goats, potbelly pigs, donkeys and ducks. The on-site restaurant serves delicious comfort food every day from early morning until 2 pm. And there’s more. The orchard’s market has hard and sweet cider, fresh baked pies, cider doughnuts, maple products, crafts, and local meats.
Tips and resources
Call ahead to find out which apple varieties are currently available for picking or just show up and be surprised. If you’d like to do your own research before heading out, this interactive Apple Finder has pictures, tartness levels, and descriptions of more than 120 varieties grown in New England.
Still have not satisfied your apple appetite? You can immerse yourself in all things apple with workshops, tours, tastings and more at Franklin County CiderDays. This annual event, held the first weekend in November, features the longest running hard cider tasting in the country.
Why not get some creative ideas on what to do with your apples by taking cooking classes from James Beard Award winning Chef Sanford (Sandy) D'Amato at Good Stock Farm?
The thermometer has plummeted, but that does not mean the end of downtown street festivals! The 2017 holiday season officially kicks off the day after Thanksgiving in Franklin County, Massachusetts! Here are some festive and glowing celebrations to bring you out into the village centers.
Moonlight Magic: Friday, November 24th, starting at 4 PM
Downtown Shelburne Falls
Just a turn off the scenic and historic Mohawk Trail in the Berkshire foothills, you'll find the picturesque village of Shelburne Falls. A designated Massachusetts Cultural District, this village kicks off Franklin County's holiday season with the annual Moonlight Magic events!
Join in the Lighting of the Village where stores, galleries and restaurants will stay open late for special holiday promotions. Vendors will be offering a rich assortment of items, including baked goods, crafts, delicious food, hot drinks and entertainment!
Find more info here.
JingleFest: Friday, December 8th, 5-7 PM
What could be better than a holiday celebration in Everyone's Hometown? Jinglefest is a fun event for the whole family! Bring the kids to complete holiday crafts, have hot cocoa, march in the parade, see Santa and more! Shoppers, vote for the business with the best-decorated window and you could win a free shopping spree! Also happening to help downtown come to life is the Greenfield Local Cultural Council’s Storefront Window Performance/Installation Art! Some of the finest artists in our region are creating art in downtown Greenfield’s storefronts to celebrate the holiday and beautify Main Street for all the shoppers. And, speaking of shopping, don’t forget to pop over to the first Greenfield Holiday Pop-Up at the Pushkin, celebrating local artisans with art, music, food and libations! Jinglefest 2017 is going to be Greenfield’s largest event of the holidays, so don’t miss it!
Find event details on the JingleFest event page on Facebook.
It's a Wonderful Night in Turners Falls!
Friday, December 15th, 3-9 PM
Downtown Turners Falls
Shopping, Dining and Seasonal Cheer
Planned throughout this vibrant and artsy downtown along the Connecticut River are festive holiday activities for the whole family: art exhibitions, live music, restaurant specials, performances and unique gift buying opportunities. Children and adults alike are encouraged to put a wish list in the Magic Mailbox. Santa arrives at Spinner Park (Avenue A and 4th St.) at 6:30 PM. Play the “Holiday Open Door Promo” and enter to win $150 in gift certificates redeemable at 25 participating downtown businesses. More information at turnersfallsriverculture.org
12th Annual Special Day in Northfield Holiday Celebration: Saturday, December 9th, starting at 10 AM
12th Annual Special Day in Northfield Holiday Celebration, (second saturday in December), Starting at 10 AM Free Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides, Santa, Live Music at Participating Locations, Live Theater, WHAI Radio Personality Nick Danjer, Hands on Crafts for Kids, Holiday Sales and Gifts, Indoor Craft and Farmers Market, Seasonal Foods, Members of the Pioneer Valley Regional High School Band, the Redemption Christian Academy Chorus, a Bonfire at Northfield Golf Club and more. Event times, descriptions, age recommendations and pricing (if any) appear below.
Information at (413) 498-5921. Schedule updates on Twitter and at at 413-498-5921.
Midnight Madness: Saturday, December 9th, from 6PM- 12 AM
Downtown Orange and Athol
Midnight Madness is a great way to shop locally for excellent gifts, get tremendous discounts and support our local economy. The North Quabbin Chamber and Visitors Bureau, store owners and artisans from around our area are getting ready for another terrific event.
The night features a sleigh full of prizes with products and gift certificates from local businesses and artisans including three prize packages worth over $2,000 and of course, deep discounts, some up to 50% or more!
Stay tuned to the North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce facebook page for details.
Starry Starry Night: New Year's Eve
Plans are underway for Orange's 22nd annual New Year's Eve celebration, Starry Starry Night! The event includes performers, ice sculptures, hayrides, parades, fireworks and more. Check the Orange Revitalization partnership page for details...