This wasn’t your typical cool sunny fall day of apple picking. It got up into the upper 80’s (!) a few weeks ago and I had to dig my sandals out of storage. But we were on the hunt to pick our own honeycrisp apples, and for the third year in a row – we just missed them! Vultures!
This was the first year we went apple picking at Rocky Brook Orchards in Middletown, RI. The orchard is family owned and operated and besides its beautiful location on Aquidneck Island, they are unique in that they also have U-pick pears, peaches, and quince!
The quince were not ready for picking yet at our visit, but I hope to go back next year and pick some. Quince is a fruit from the same family as apples and pears. I’ve never tried one but I heard they are better used in preserves than eaten raw. The ripe fruit smells amazing and the trees produce beautiful blossoms in the spring.
This orchard was set up much differently than Old Stone Orchard in Little Compton, where we have gone apple picking before. At Old Stone Orchard, the fruit trees are espaliered (where dwarf trees are trained to grow in flat, two-dimensional rows to direct more energy for fruit bearing) but at Rocky Brook Orchards, the trees are much older. It was fascinating to see how the various species produced different shaped trees and it was fun to crawl under their giant old gnarly boughs to get some shade and look for more apples. Also, Rocky Brook Orchards supplies these long-handled “pickers” so you can get to the apples at the tippity top.
I hope to be back next year, the second the honeycrisp are ready, and hopefully again later in the season to try some quince. But I think it might become a new tradition to visit a new local orchard each Fall. It’s fun to see these different edible landscapes and meet the families who put so much love and hard work into them so we can enjoy this favorite fall activity.