Cider Doughnuts and Apple Picking at Sunset Orchard Farms

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We have no shortage of great orchards for apple picking in Rhode Island, and over the years, we’ve visited Jaswell’s, Knight Farm, Sweet Berry Farm and Hill Orchard. This year, we all had our requirements — Geoff wanted cider doughnuts, I wanted it to be in ‘apple valley’ (near Smithfield), and the girls wanted some kind of ride.

So we agreed on Sunset Orchards, where there was a small train ride and tractor ride through the orchards, as well as fresh cider doughnuts, unpasteurized cider, and plenty of apple varieties to pick from (including macintosh and empire apples, my two favorites).

We were a bit surprised how bustling it was there (clearly, we hadn’t ‘discovered’ this place), but once you got out into the orchard, it felt more lowkey. Despite the 18 pounds of apples we bought, not one apple went to waste. And the resulting pie Geoff made, well, I guess that had at least something to do with the apples.

Sunset Orchard Farms
44 Gleaner Chapel Road
North Scituate, RI

Apple Picking and Brunch at Knight Farm

Enjoying an apple straight off the tree.

Each year we try to find a new farm for apple picking in addition to our old favorites. In past years, we’ve discovered Jaswell’s Farm, Hill Orchards, and Sweet Berry Farm. This year, we decided to try Knight Farm, founded in 1800.

Although many farms have stands or shops (Jaswell’s and Sweet Berry Farms are my favorites), few have restaurants. When we arrived this morning, it was clear this was a popular place for brunch and with good reason. It’s certainly nothing fancy, but they serve simple comfort food in a charming and rustic atmosphere. I ordered an egg sandwich, and I was not disappointed.

Knight’s apple orchards feel relatively compact to some of the others (they have about 40 acres versus Jaswell’s 100 acres), but really how many apple trees do you need? We had no trouble picking our own crisp, tasty apples. Of course, the real work came later — peeling apples, rendering lard (from Pat’s Pastured Pork), rolling the crust, and baking the pie. Not that I did any of that. But I did eat a piece of the resulting pie, and it was delicious.

Knight Farm and Restaurant
1 Snake Hill Road
North Scituate, RI

Also see Farm Fresh RI’s Pick Your Own Guide near Providence.

Hill Orchards: Pick Your Own Apples, Peaches and Plums

Lucy makes her pick...

In our few years in Rhode Island, apple picking has become one of our fall traditions. We’ve gone to Jaswell’s Farm, which has a great farm stand and pasteurizes their own cider, and Sweet Berry Farm, which I love for their café/farm stand (their pumpkin muffins are addictive). This year, to try something new (and because we heard they still had peaches), we headed to Hill Orchards in Johnston, RI.

At most orchards, they discourage you from sampling the fruit, but at Hill they invited us to try before you buy. And sure enough, they still had peaches and plums in addition to plenty of apples — although not all of them ripe quite yet. This weekend, they recommended picking the macintosh, cortland, gala and macoun, although we also found some ripe golden delicious.

There do have a bare bones “farm stand,” which consists of a folding table where you can buy some cider and pumpkins in a variety of sizes (we got both). And they also offer horse-drawn carriage rides around the farm — we passed on the ride, although Madeline insisted on petting the horses.

As usual, we left with enough fruit to make several pies, except this time, we’ll have to add peach pie to our to do list.

Hill Orchards
86 Winsor Avenue
Johnston, RI

For other suggestions on where to “pick your own,” visit Farm Fresh RI.

Apple Picking at Jaswell’s Farm

A shiny apple picked from the tree

Madeline proudly displays her conquest.

There’s nothing quite like biting an apple taken directly from the tree — so crisp, a little bit tart, and absolutely delicious.  On the advice of a friend, we decided to drive to Smithfield’s “Apple Valley” to Jaswell’s Farm. A fourth generation family farm, they have acres of apple trees you can wander through to fill up bags of apples for $1.50 per pound. Right now, cortland and macintosh apples were ripe for the picking. They also have a field to pick-your-own pumpkins and another to pick flowers. Jaswell’s is famous for their handmade candy apples and their fresh cider which is milled and pasteurized on the premises. Their daily farm stand offers a selection of locally grown and homemade baked goods, jams and produce.

Madeline loved hunting among the low branches to find the reddest apples. Needless to say, we came home with three big bags filled with 17 pounds of apples. Now, someone needs to bake some pies…

Jaswell’s Farm
pick-your-own apples and pumpkins continues through most of October
50 Swan Rd
Smithfield, RI

Pick Your Own Fruit at Sweet Berry Farm

Picking Berries at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI.

Picking Berries at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI.

There are so many reasons to love Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI.  In the fall they have pick-your-own apples and pumpkins (they make the best pumpkin muffins on the planet — perhaps, the universe).  Also, their farm stand stays open from mid-April through the end of December, which extends the ‘market’ season by several months.  Even better, their farm stand doubles as a quaint grocery store that carries mostly local products — you can buy the Sweet Berry Farm jams, honeys and pastries, but you can also buy milk, eggs, cheese, and pasta.  They even make their own frozen gourmet dinners.  The farm also has a little café (indoors and outdoors) where you can sit and enjoy some of their  muffins, soups, sandwiches and salads.

On their 100 acre farm, they grow vegetables (beets, carrots, corn, salad greens, squash, etc.), fruits (apples, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, etc.), flowers, and trees.  Their extensive pick-your-own schedule  begins with strawberries in early June and ends in December with Christmas trees.  (They allow you to tag your tree months in advance, but if you’re like us, it also works to pick one of the unclaimed orphan trees around December 20).

Today, Madeline and I went to pick our own — peaches (firm but tasty), blackberries (beautiful but tart) and the last of the raspberries (perfectly sweet).

Pick-your-own peaches at Sweet Berry Farm

Pick-your-own peaches at Sweet Berry Farm

Here’s the picking schedule, in case you want to try for yourself…

Strawberries: Early June through early July
Summer Raspberries: July through mid-August
Fall Raspberries: Late August through September
Blueberries: Mid-July through August
Peaches: Late July through early October
Blackberries: Early August through September
Apples: September through early October
Pumpkins: Late September through October
Christmas Trees: Tagging starts in October

Sweet Berry Farm
915 Mitchell’s Lane
Middletown, Rhode Island