How do you like them apples? Organic, please. September is peak apple-picking season, and unfortunately, apples are one of the fruits that rank highest in pesticide residue. While organic apples, though pricier, are easier to find these days in stores and markets, not so much when it comes to apple picking. And by organic, we’re talking certified organic, which means a USDA designation that requires compliance with the federal organic rules. Here are ideas for field trips to certified organic apple orchards, and because cranberries are also a fall favorite in New England, a taste of the region’s few organic bogs, too.
Bear Swamp Orchard & Cidery
This small, rural orchard in Ashfield is on the map for pick-your-own certified organic apples and panoramic hillside views. “Our draw is the beauty of this spot, the food we grow and produce, and the rural nature of our farm,” says co-owner Jennifer Williams. “We have animals, picnic tables, and we abut the Trustees of Reservations Bear Swamp property for those who like to hike.” You can also get organic hard cider (and tastings) at the farm. “We have mostly Jonafree apples for picking, with a small crop of Liberty and Cortland this year,” says Williams. “We have plenty of Jonafree apples, which make up the bulk of our U-pick crop.” www.bearswamporchard.com
This small apple orchard in North Scituate, R.I., specializes in organic apples and Asian pears — and several varieties of certified organic garlic, too.
“If the weather cooperates, we expect a very good apple-picking season,” says co-owner Alfred Fuoroli. “The crop looks very good.” More than 12 varieties are available for pick your own (the season began in early September and lasts through Columbus Day). “We manage well over 1,000 dwarf trees covering about 3 acres,” says Fuoroli. “The organic part of our orchard has been certified organic since 2012.” Bonus: You can also buy certified organic apple cider. www.elwoodorchard.com
Cape Cod’s largest certified organic bog is in Harwich. And while the harvest takes place each fall, tours of the bog are offered year-round and provide a rich, educational look into the behind-the-scenes operation — and the ongoing battle with invasive weeds that are increasingly threatening the cranberries. “We have been certified organic for 20 acres for over 20 years,” says owner Leo Cakounes. Visit the cranberry farm this fall and stock up for Thanksgiving with fresh-picked organic cranberries; sweetened dried cranberries are sold year-round, as well as canned organic cranberry sauce. “I am basically a historian, and we are a museum for people to come and see how it works,” says Cakounes. www.cranberrybogtours.com
Nantucket has a 161-year history with cranberry farming. The 15th annual Nantucket Cranberry Festival, hosted by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, will feature berries from the island’s last two remaining commercial bogs, including the certified organic Windswept Organic Bog and Milestone Bog, which is slated to become certified organic by the end of the year. The festival takes place Oct. 6 and will celebrate exclusively those organic cranberries with harvesting demonstrations, bog tours, hayrides, and cranberry-centric food, too. www.nantucketconservation.org