Playing Johnny Appleseed

By Features Writer Frankie Barbato

If you are supposed to eat an apple a day, why not just pick the apple yourself?

During the time of year when the leaves are changing colors and the sun is setting earlier, New Englanders are trying to appreciate the last bit of outdoors before winter. For Boston residents, apple picking is one of the most popular ways to soak in all that the fall season has to offer.

According to the website applepickingboston.com, there are over 40 pick-your-own apple orchards in the greater Boston area. In a traditional pay by the pound fashion, apple picking is an alternative to typical supermarket shopping during the fall months.

Among the most famous of these orchards is Northboro, Massachusetts based Tougas Family Farm. Tougas is a family-friendly apple orchard that attracts thousands of eager apple pickers every year.

Andre Tougas is one of the owners of the farm, whose father originally opened the 120 acres of orchard in 1981. Throughout the years, Touga claims that although his farm also grows a variety of fruits in the spring and summer for customers to pick, apple picking in the fall is by far the most popular.

“On a normal Saturday we get around 7-10 thousand people coming through here,” Tougas said. “And even on rainy days, people still come out.”

For many families, apple picking is an annual fall tradition.

College of Communications senior Tory Huber said she and her family go apple picking every year.

“I think it’s more of a northeast family tradition,” Huber said. “My parents did it before me and now we go every year. And the apple cider and really good donuts are the best part.”

But what about those new Boston residents that never had this “northeast” fall tradition back home? College of General Studies freshman and London native Tessa Evoy claims that before coming to Boston University, she did not know anything about this beloved pastime.

“In London we don’t have any specific fall traditions like they do here,” Evoy said. “We do have a giant bonfire in November, but no one goes apple picking.”

In 2010, USA Today compiled a list of the “Top 10 Apple Picking Farms” in the country, citing factors such as the variety of apples and size of the apple trees as the basis for its evaluation. Tougas Farm made the cut in 2010, coming in at number eight.

Many of the apple farms have shorter sized and more accessible trees that do not require the use of a ladder, in order to make their orchards more kid-friendly. And because of the amount of kids who are eager to rip apples off every tree they see, Andre makes something very clear before he lets the families loose in the orchard.

“We have a couple of rules on our farm,” Andre said. “Number one, don’t climb the trees. Number two, don’t climb the trees.”

While factors such as a wide variety of apples attract adults, youngsters are eager to come back every year because of the barnyards, hayrides and farm kitchens that many orchards also offer.

But 5-year-old Newton, MA resident Kyle Sullivan makes the annual decision very easy: “I like to go apple picking every year just because it’s a lot of fun.”

With only about two more months before the harsh Boston winter, it is no surprise that residents both young and old are equally anxious to get to an orchard.

“I’m 21 years old,” Huber said. “And in my opinion, you are never too old to go apple picking.”

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