The nice thing about being retired is that when fall comes you can take a weekday morning and go to an apple orchard to procure some fresh fruit. One day last week NCW and I took a drive to Whistling Well Farm, an apple orchard and farm near Aspen State Park. It was a half hour or so drive, and when we arrived, there were no other visitors. We browsed the assortment of apple related goodies - cider, apple butter and honey, then took a walk to the part of the orchard where the ripe apple varieties were ready for picking. There were lots of good looking fruit hanging from the trees. I don't think they are that much cheaper than buying them at Trader Joe's, but the selection is different and the apples are verifiably local. The varieties that were ripe and being sold were Zestors and SweeTangos, of the ten or so varieties that they grow at the orchard.
The farm is small, growing mostly apples and pumpkins, and a few chickens and turkeys, but we were alone on the property, except for the staff, and it was a nice simple place to spend a few hours. I took this just as we were exiting the orchard area and returning to pay for our bounty.
NCW is toting the bag of apples that we picked. They are the Zestor variety and are pretty tasty. We chose them carefully from some of the heavily-fruited trees in the orchard. The Honey Crisps, the darling of the apple eaters in the Twin Cities area, were not quite ready for picking. We took the Zestors home, along with a bag of SweeTangos, another sweet variety, and have been eating them with enjoyment.
I've picked apples in Michigan a time or two and this was a similar experience, except that the varieties of apples available were different, and the farm was a bit smaller than the ones I visited there. I think I may bake a pie.
As a bonus picture, I wanted to add a sea of either black-eyed or brown-eyed Susans, taken a couple of weeks ago at Como Park. They grow them thick and healthy near the rain garden near the peninsula facing the pavilion. The project to restore the shore line produced some surprising benefits, including these Susans. The bees must be happy.