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Julie Pike

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Posted: September 5, 2018

5 picks for apple picking offer a variety of experiences

Written by: Julie Pike

Fall is soon approaching in Maine, and as the weather begins to drop, so do the apples growing in the dozens of orchards across the state. Maine’s apple season generally runs from August to late October. So it’s just about time to collect your Red Delicious and McIntosh for homemade pies, apple crisp or just plain eating. However, Maine’s orchards come with much more than just apples, including a variety of other fruits and vegetables, homemade goodies and plenty of fun activities for the kids. The variety of offerings makes it easy to spend the day there. Here are our picks for where to go, depending on what kind of experience you want to have.


BEST FOR HOMEMADE DOUGHNUTS

LIBBY & SON U-PICKS

86 Sawyer Mountain Road, Limerick, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. libbysonupicks.com

After combing through Libby’s rows of apple trees and blueberry bushes, you can enjoy warm homemade pumpkin, apple cider, or blueberry doughnuts made with ingredients right from the farm. The perfect way to warm up after a chilly fall day is with a homemade doughnut and a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate, all of which Libby’s offers. Aside from stocking up on fresh fruit and food, families can enjoy live music, face painting, balloon animals and wagon rides at Libby’s – plenty of entertainment for a fall outing. Check out the orchard’s website to see what’s in season and what’s picking each day. Its apple season generally goes from mid-August to November.


Greg Sweetser at work at his apple orchard in Cumberland. Sweetser plucks a Zestar apple from one of his trees. Staff photo by John Ewing

BEST FOR VARIETY

SWEETSER’S APPLE BARREL AND ORCHARDS

19 Blanchard Road, Cumberland, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. maineapple.com

Whatever type of apple you’re looking for, Sweetser’s is likely to have it, offering 50 different varieties from mid-August to early December. From McIntosh to Gala to Red Delicious, Sweetser’s has them all. Sweetser’s is a 200-year-old family-run business, with fifth-generation Greg Sweetser and his mother, Constance, currently at the helm. They have knowledgeable staff that can help customers find the best apple for them, providing advice on which ones would be best for cooking or eating. Sweetser’s also has a farm stand with a variety of seasonal vegetables, blueberries, strawberries and other goodies, such as Stones Cafe cider doughnuts and artisan breads from Standard Baking Co.


Fresh apples at Rocky Ridge Orchard in Bowdoinham. Staff photo by Derek Davis

BEST FOR A ONE-STOP SHOP

ROCKY RIDGE ORCHARD

38 Rocky Ridge Lane, Bowdoin, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, rockyridgeorchard.com

Rocky Ridge orchard has everything you need for a fall outing, including apple and pumpkin picking; a bakery offering homemade pastries, breads, sandwiches and ice cream; a shop with antiques and Maine-themed gifts; horse-drawn wagon rides and a barn swing for kids. Rocky Ridge is also wheelchair accessible. In October, you’ll find rows upon rows of pumpkins ready to be carved into jack-o-lanterns. And most of the goodies for sale are made in-house, including homemade cider, whoopie pies, doughnuts, sticky buns, pies and a collection of soaps and hand creams for a perfect Maine gift. Rocky Ridge has lots to offer for visitors in both the summer and fall.


Ornamental bouquets made from cut flowers and veggies by Snell Family Farm in Buxton.
Staff photo by Gordon Chibroski

BEST FOR FLOWERS

SNELL FAMILY FARM

1000 River Road, Buxton, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. snellfamilyfarm.com

One of the first things you’ll notice when visiting Snell Family Farm is the abundance of bright colors – from the fresh vegetables and fruit, homemade desserts and pastries to the beautiful bouquets of flowers. Carolyn Snell designs flower arrangements for all sorts of occasions and events, which you can also order from Snell’s online shop. You can find Snell’s at the Portland farmers markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays through Thanksgiving, selling an assortment of fruit, vegetables and flowers. However, Snell’s was first and foremost an apple orchard, dating back to 1926 when Henry Snell moved to Buxton. The business has stayed in the family ever since, offering new additions with Carolyn’s flower designs and homemade tasty treats from Abby Snell’s farm kitchen.


McDougal Orchards in Sanford.
Staff photo by Gregory Rec

BEST FOR FAMILY FUN

MCDOUGAL ORCHARDS

201 Hanson Ridge Road, Springvale, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through October. mcdougalorchards.com

Kids could spend hours at McDougal Orchards, getting lost in a corn maze, building houses in the fairy village, feeding the farm animals, or enjoying a nice picnic. There’s also a system of trails throughout the orchard for a stroll through the fields. Parents can stock up from a wide variety of apples available from early August to late October, as well as nectarines, plums and pears. A visit to Capt. Jack’s Donut Shack for homemade cider doughnuts, mulled cider and coffee is a must while at McDougal’s. Jack McAdam and his wife, Ellen, run the business. (Jack McAdam was a licensed captain for the U.S. Coast Guard, hence the name.) McDougal’s has wagon rides, the corn maze and cider ready for visitors until the end of its season.


Check out our map of Where to Find Weird Apples in Maine


Julie Pike, a summer intern at the Portland Press Herald, is a senior at the University of Southern Maine and serves as the editor in chief of its student newspaper, The Free Press.

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