Apple Picking at Crow Farm
Nothing says fall quite like the first crisp, sweet bite of an apple fresh from the tree, and nothing says local like being able to pick your own right here on Cape Cod. Crow Farm, which is celebrating its hundredth anniversary this year, has four acres of apple orchard open for public picking. The orchards are accessible via a charming tractor-pulled hayride and are open from Labor Day to Columbus Day.
Riding shotgun in Paul Crowell’s truck, we trace the hayride route through the 40 cultivated acres behind Crow Farm’s familiar 6A farm stand in Sandwich. The bumpy route twists and turns uphill past fields of corn, greenhouses, pine trees, peach trees, pear trees, and yes, apple trees. Crowell lists the varieties of apple, “MacIntosh, Macoun, Courtland, HoneyCrisp, Golden Russet, and Empire.”
This is Crow Farm’s second year of pick-your-own apples, and Crowell points out trees that vary in size from dwarf to huge, and vary in age from two years old to seventy. “Some trees are older than I am, and there are pictures of me beneath some trees in a playpen,” he says.
He stops the truck in one of three orchards. This one is filled with neat rows of dwarf MacIntosh and Macoun trees. Turning around I am struck by the view of the ocean below. We have climbed high enough on the land to see the water, which combines hayrides and apple picking with a million dollar view.
Crowell calls it a unique spot for apple picking while noting that it avoids the trip off Cape. Visitors can expect two tractors working throughout the day, each able to hold 15 to 25 people for a hayride made charming by its simplicity. Visitors can plan on picking half-bushel bags, which weigh in at 15 to 20 pounds, or smaller peck bags, which are a quarter the size of a bushel. The purchase of the apple-picking bag includes the hayride, and visitors also have the option to walk the route if they choose.
Pick your own apples has so far been successful enough to allow Crow Farm to plant more apple trees. “It’s been well received, people like the simplicity. We are also hoping to do a pick-your-own pumpkin this year if the pumpkins do well,” Crowell says.
He notes that the public’s relationship to farms has changed over the years and that pick-your-own models increase the relevancy of farms in the modern world. “First we were interested in retail, which was novel because before farmers just sold their goods to supermarkets, so we had the farm stand. The stand feels like visiting the farm, but now people want more. They want to be on the farm and feel like part of the farm. Pick your own is a nice fall thing to do,” he says.
As the truck rattles back downhill, we end up where we started at the farm stand, where fall visitors will be able to purchase a homemade apple pie in case they aren’t baking their own, with a jug of apple cider to wash it down. In the spirit of New England autumn, Crowell half jokes that the best time to come pick apples while avoiding the crowds is during a Patriots game. “That’s the quiet time,” he says.
174 Route 6A, Sandwich
Apple picking will likely be one day each weekend from Labor Day to Columbus Day. Check the Crow Farm Facebook page for further details as they evolve.