It’s Apple Time!
The recent stretch of beautiful weather has made apple picking at local orchards even more fun than usual this harvest season. That was obvious, last Sunday at the Stevens Orchard, in Stanstead, as children from Sunnyside Elementary and Jardin-des-Frontieres
schools, along with their parents and grandparents, took part in the third annual “Gala Event”. Those that show up for the event, and the number has been growing every year, pick and then grade the apples, with the smaller ones put aside for the two schools, to be stored and then delivered a couple of times a month by the orchard’s owner, Harvey Stevens. “By the time we finished grading, we had 51 bushels for the schools. That’s 2,040 pounds, or a little more than our objective of a ton. We should have enough apples for the students until mid-winter,” said Mr. Stevens. “We don’t make apple juice here, and some of the apples are just a little too small for the stores. So it works out well – the Gala Event has turned into a hit!” he added.
“We had a good growing season until we got the hail on August 14th. That put a few dimples in some of the apples,” continued Mr. Stevens. This weekend, there will be many varieties ready for picking at the Stevens Orchard, including the anxiously awaited Honeycrisp. “They sometimes sell out in two weeks,” he commented. The other varieties are Cortland, Macoun, Spartan, the new Ginger Gold, and three types of Galas: Mitchgla Gala, Fulford Gala and Royal Gala. “The Ginger Gold is a new variety, a yellowish apple that is gaining in popularity,” said the apple producer.
Over at the Heath Orchard, in Stanstead East, the well-aged trees are laden with ripe red fruit, ready for the picking. “Our early apples were a little unproductive, but we were expecting that because last year’s crop was so bountiful. Older varieties, as the early apples are, often alternate years of production,” explained Chris Rawlings. On the other hand, the crop of ‘late’ apples is abundant. “Our Paula Reds are excellent, and the Macintoshes are phenomenal, uniformly delicious. And because of the lack of rain there is a lot less scab,” said Mr. Rawlings.
The other apple varieties available at the Heath Orchard are Cortlands, Spartan, Empire and the end of the Lobos. You can also find a nice variety of squash there (Buttercup, Amber Cup, Butternut, Sweet Dumpling, blue and green Hubbards) and pumpkins of all sizes.
“It’s been an encouraging year so far; we’ve had lots of pickers. We’re hoping to be open for picking the entire month of October, but that’s not in my hands!” concluded Mr. Rawlings.
It was a three generational apple-picking affair, last Sunday, as students of Stanstead’s two elementary schools and their parents and grandparents picked and graded Gala apples at the Stevens Orchard. The free apples will be delivered by Mr. Stevens to the schools throughout the year.