When I was a little girl, I attended daycare while mom and dad worked their 8-5 jobs. We spent the majority of our time outdoors in a yard that was not your typical childcare playground. Sure, there were several swings and a tether ball pole and even a set of mighty dangerous monkey bars, but interspersed with these play things, there were fruit trees.
You can imagine all the why’s.
- Children would pick the fruit too early.
- Children would fuss over the fruit.
- Children would fall while climbing the trees.
- Children would eat a bad apple and get sick.
Honestly, I really don’t know what the main reason was for the “don’t pick the fruit” rule. I don’t think the owners ever even harvested their fruits. I remember distinctly the sight of fallen apples all over the ground, bruised and eventually rotting, their sweet smell gathering bees.
I was afraid of breaking any rule.
I was also afraid of bees.
Perhaps these memories are why I have never gone apple picking.
But I’m having second thoughts. Here’s why…
Did you know that most pick your own farms grow dwarf trees?
That’s correct. You’ll be able to comfortably reach for the apples without climbing a single tree. Apples ripen from the outside of the tree to the inside, and most are within reach for a preschooler. (And no, I will never again use the apple tree finger play in my classes – the one about shaking the tree!)
Did you know that farmers love to share their knowledge?
Unsure which variety is best for your tasting or cooking plans? Farmers and their staff will tell you. Don’t know which color shading is indicative of ripeness? Ask the farmer before you begin!
Did you know that picking and caring for fruit is a multi-disciplinary lesson for your child?
Big words; big claims. I know. But, think of all the things to learn while walking down those rows of apple trees. What color should we pick? Gentle, now. Grab the apple and turn it slowly. Did the stem come off with it? Oh, good – it should stay ripe longer! Why? Hmmm … I’m not sure. Let’s ask the farmer! Don’t drop it in your basket. We don’t want to bruise it. Is your basket getting heavy? How many apples have you picked? I wonder if we can weigh them? How much will these costs? Is this enough to make a pie? We’ll need to keep these in a cool place when we get home – where do you suggest?
Did you know that most pick-your-own farms have additional activities?
Pack some snacks or a picnic lunch. Some places will have cider and other apple products to sell. Doughnuts make me happy. Check your farm’s website. There may be a petting zoo. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to let them get lost in a supervised corn maze while you do a cider tasting … yes, apple picking is going to be fun for both children and adults.
Below are several u-pick apple orchards in the SC and NC area – perfect for a day trip or weekend out of town with the family!
1011 Chattooga Ridge Rd.
Mountain Rest, SC 29664
If you’re looking for a full day or weekend apple adventure, then consider Bryson’s. They press their own cider and have free samples. This orchard has a wide selection of jams and jellies, canned goods, honey from bees, sorgum syrup and local vegetables when in season. Bryson’s is located in the beautiful Long Creek area of the Blue Ridge Mountains, three miles from the Chattooga River, fifteen miles from Oconee State Park, and six miles from Chau Ram State Park. Lakes Keowee, Jocassee,and Hartwell, along with over twenty waterfalls, and many marked hiking trails are just a few of the surrounding area attractions.
454 Damascus Church Road
Long Creek, SC 29658
The farm has a variety produce through-out the seasons including apples and peach orchards, muscadines, scuppernongs, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. They have a variety of exotic fruits like persimmons, paw paws, Asian pears, figs, and more! In addition, they offer cabins for rent and have a bistro, as well as farm tours, a disc golf course, and a distillery. It’s also a wedding venue, so call ahead.
1193 Pinnacle Mountain Rd
Zirconia, NC 28731 (Flat Rock area, NC)
Visit Sky Top Orchard and you’ll enjoy panoramic mountain views, orchard ponds with ducks and geese, a ‘barnyard’ area with sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys and more, a bamboo forest to explore, lots of picnic areas and, of course, a mountaintop of fragrant apple and fruit trees. This favorite among families in the Midlands also offers hayrides (without the hay in the truck, to help your allergies) and apple doughnuts. View their downloadable map to see all they have to offer.
1860 Black Hwy
York, SC 29745
Windy Hill Orchard is a family owned and operated boutique apple orchard and Hard Cider producer located in the upstate of South Carolina. Open every fall from mid-August until Christmas, they offer visitors, Award Winning Hard Ciders, Pick Your Own Apples, Fresh Pressed Apple Cider, Fresh Made Apple Products, and much, much more. Their cats are friendly and you should check their schedule for live music.