Apple Picking Etiquette

By: Mary Morris 

I love apple picking. I don’t know why, because I don’t really like camping or hiking or anything else like that.  But visiting a farm is pretty cool, I think. And I like my kids to Apple treeknow that there is a place where food is grown; it doesn’t just miraculously appear at the grocery store all neatly packaged and ready for consumption.

The whole idea of apple picking is to commune with nature, right?  We live in New England so apples are the fruit. This year, like most years, I visited C.N. Smith Farm in East Bridgewater, MA with my children. Each year the crowds seem to grow. The lines were long: a line to buy a bag to pick apples, a line to buy a ticket for the hay ride and a line to wait for a pony ride and so on. But who minds the wait?

The sun is shining, the air is crisp, the colors of the foliage are wonderful, and yet people are grumbling. Sure, the apple bag prices have gone up a bit but you are not really paying for the apples. You are paying for the experience. I heard people say, “They are really gouging the customer this year.”  And I was thinking, “I wonder what the operating expenses are on a farm of this size? It must cost a fortune to run and maintain.”

Truthfully, I don’t know if apple orchards make a bunch of money or not, but they are a part of the New England landscape. None of us would want to see the orchards disappear because they couldn’t afford to stay in business. Right?

Corn stalks The other thing I noticed about the experience this year was that people were intentionally breaking the few and simple rules of the farm.  They ask that you don’t climb the trees to prevent damage, yet I saw several people dangling from the trees like grotesque human ornaments. Most people were shaking their heads as if to say, “What are you doing up there?”

The management also asks that you only fill the designated bag or bags and not ones that you carry in. Yet, I did see some patrons with pockets, purses and stroller undercarriages loaded with apple cargo. Seriously? How hungry are you for more apples? Would you do this at the grocery store? No, because it is known as stealing. Somehow at the farm some people think it is a free for all! I don’t like to act like the unofficial apple orchard police, but some people need an etiquette lesson.

I once had someone who was visiting my home and who I hardly knew and she sat on the arm of my sofa.  I couldn’t believe it. It was an adult, mind you, and I thought it was so rude. I don’t know why these things bother me so much?  But why sit on an arm of a chair when there are seat cushions to sit on? It is called the armrest for a reason. It is not meant to hold the weight of a person. Nor is a tree in an apple orchard.

Anyway, I think the fundamental rule of apple picking is to teach our children how to respect nature and to show them the beauty growing food. And then to go home and enjoy those apples in pies, cobblers or in the lunch box the next day. Fresh. Juicy. Healthy. A great memory of a fun day.

Somehow I feel better after venting. Now I can get off my soapbox. Happy fall everyone!

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