To support small farms that depend on income from apple-picking tourists. Because making a living profit from farming and resisting the pressure to sell off farmland to McMansion developers are hard to do these days. The cost of Pick Your Own is still about the same as already-picked apples for sale at farmers markets or stores, around $1/lb, but the farms deserve to make money for their labor of growing the apples. And it's about the experience.
For the pleasure of walking around beautiful orchard paths and fields in good company on a sunny fall afternoon.
For insanely good views of fall foliage
For climbing trees to snare hard-to-reach fruits, especially late in the season.
For snacking on juicy freshly picked apples.
For the exercise that comes with carrying around a twenty pound half bushel bag.
For the vinegary smell of fallen rotting apples that might inspire you to make your own hard cider or try some from the local wineries.
For saying hello to goats that live in barns.
For picking out a pumpkin to carve.
For the sound of children running around. And for rolling down hills like children.
For spying on honeybees and buying local honey from the farm store.
For rewarding yourself afterward with hot cider and freshly made donuts.
For bringing home tons of apples to eat, to freeze, to make crockpot applesauce, apple pie, apple muffins, apple cake, apple pancakes...
My place of choice for apple picking is Ochs Orchard in Warwick, NY, ninety minutes outside NYC, for its stunning views, charming farm store, and proximity to my childhood home. To find a Pick Your Own farm near you, take a look through this comprehensive list of farms in the US, Canada, Britain, and other countries.
photos 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 10 by Jamie Santamour. rest by me.