After much searching, I finally found an apple orchard that minimizes its pesticide use! Frootogo Orchards, nestled within the Niagara Escarpment in Waterdown, implements integrated pest management (IPM), which is a fancy term for using beneficial insects to eat bad bugs, among other things. Follow this link to read about the other IPM components Frootogo employs on the farm. The provincial government also provides a lot of crop-specific information about IPM on their website.
Another surprise: Frootogo is participating in the Ontario Environmental Farm Plan, which uses workshops to educate farmers about potential environmental issues on the farm (e.g. water and energy efficiency, soil management, pest management, waste disposal, wildlife habitat protection, etc.), then helps analyze a given farm's situation to create realistic projects that reduce its overall environmental risk. Frootogo has already completed two plans.
Thanks to all of these wonderful environmental initiatives, the apples taste amazing! So, on to the pictures...
First, Northern Spy, the tried-and-true baking apple. Frankly, I'd just as happily eat these out of hand.
The dwarf trees made for easy picking.
These are Cortlands, another great baking apple, and also super tasty to eat.
I discovered a new (to me) variety: Jonagold, a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious developed in the 50s in New York. Really flavourful, incredibly crisp, a hint of tartness... I don't want to eat supermarket-bought apples ever again. Ever. EVER!
Good haul! Compared to berry picking, the basket filled very quickly. That's probably the only downside to apple picking. Too bad I forgot to take a picture of the cute red wagon we borrowed to carry the baskets!
Lots and lots of apple trees! The farm had a total of 60 rows, and what you see here is half of one row.
Oh, and lots of animals, too. I couldn't help myself, they were very cute. Scroll past them for pumpkins, if you prefer!
There are still plenty of apples available for picking. I won't accept the excuse that this is just an activity for children. An outing to a pick-your-own farm is always worth your time. Get out of the city (carpooling with friends, of course), breathe in fresh, clean air, go for a hike when you're done, and reconnect with nature. Most importantly, get to know the farmers who grow your food, and savour the flavours of the land.