There are many reasons to love Fall in Central New York and at the top of my list is apple picking. My grandparents farmed an apple orchard near Canandaigua, NY and my cousins and siblings and I spent many happy fall afternoons “helping” with the apple harvest. I realize now, we probably weren’t all that helpful, but we loved being a part of it. We watched in awe as hundreds of apples rolled along the huge sorting machine in the barn, the best ones eventually making their way into the bags to be sold to the customers. Now that I have children of my own, taking them apple picking brings back so many of those memories.
New York State is the second largest grower of apples in the United States (the state of Washington is first) so it’s obviously quite easy to find local sources of apples where we live. But if you are trying to find local organic apples, you may be searching for awhile…they are hard to find. I have stood in the produce section of my local grocery store many times looking at the beautiful organic apples from Washington State and wondering…where are the organic New York apples? So I did a little investigating and this is what I found out. Washington state has a much drier climate than New York and because of the humidity levels here, our apple growers must deal with many more insects and diseases which threaten the apple crops. The best that most New York apple growers can do is to use IPM which stands for Integrated Pest Management. IPM is a combination of limited conventional pesticide spraying and sustainable farming practices in order to manage, rather than fully eradicate the insects and diseases. While this is a big improvement over the spraying that used to be done, it is virtually impossible to convert an existing conventional apple orchard to an organic one. You, essentially, have to start over in order to be completely organic.
The good news is that there is an apple grower here in Central New York who has done just that. Bill Adams and his family opened Adams Acres a few years ago on a beautiful piece of property in Jamesville, NY. Their orchard is filled with apple trees that were planted in 2008 and have never been sprayed with conventional pesticides. Bill uses strictly organic farming practices and is an NOFA certified grower. My family and I had a chance to check out their apple orchard this past weekend and came home with several bags full of delicious Dayton apples. The trees are dwarf trees so the fruit is all within easy reach…the kids loved that! I was surprised at how pretty the apples were. When reading about organic apples, I had learned that they are often more prone to skin discoloration and don’t look as flawless as their conventional cousins. These apples did have a slight milky white film on them and Bill explained that this is from the clay that he sprays on to deter insects, one of the several organic practices that he uses. The film rinsed off easily when I washed them. Oh…and one more thing…the price of organic apples from Washington at our local grocery store? $2.69 to $3.99/lb. The price we paid to pick local organic apples? $1.30/lb.
Adams Acres is open on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the Fall, from 10-5. They are located at 7047 Sevier Road in Jamesville, NY. They are also hosting a U-Pick Organic Apple Party on Sunday September 22nd, from 10-2, along with Farmshed CNY and other local farm vendors. Be sure to stop by and support these folks. Maybe one day soon there will be more than one organic apple orchard in Central New York!