For many Central Mass. residents, it isn't officially fall until they have eaten an apple fresh from a tree and picked a bunch more to bake into pies.
Central Mass. is the home of several pick-your-own apple orchards, and the earliest crops are now ripe for the picking. Whether your craving is for the humble McIntosh, the sturdy Cortland, the flavorful Honeycrisp or the heirloom Northern Spy, chances are these local farms have the apples — and cider, doughnuts, pies, pumpkins and wagon rides — of your fall dreams.
Tougas Family Farm, 234 Ball St., Northborough — Tougas has acres of orchards, reachable by hayride on weekends or on foot during the week. The farm has a kitchen/bakery with ice cream and baked apple goods as well as a pumpkin patch. Children can feed the animals in the barnyard or play on a playground. Call 508-393-6406 for picking conditions or visit the farm's website.
Hawk Hill Orchards, 83 Carleton Road, Millbury — Hawk Hill features pick-your-own apples and has a country store that sells preserves, cider and candy. Pumpkins are available, too. Glacial rock formations and a picnic area are available for relaxation. Call 508-865-4037 for picking conditions.
Stowe Farm Orchards, 15 Stowe Road, Millbury — Stowe Farm has been a local tradition for generations, featuring pick-your-own apples and pumpkins as well as a petting zoo, gemstone mining, corn cannons and a country store with pies, breads, fudge and cider candy. Call 508-865-9860 for picking conditions or visit the farm's website.
Keown Orchards, 9 McClellan Road, Sutton — Keown features pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, offers hayrides through the orchards and boasts more than 50 varieties of apples. It also hosts a farm stand of fruits and vegetables, as well as pies, cider and caramel apples. Call 508-865-6706 for picking conditions or visit the farm's website.