Flannel shirts. Cider donuts. Children shrieking with glee from their seat on the hayride. Apples growing heavy in trees, showcasing every lovely shade of crimson, gold and green that New England has to offer. What is this mystical place I speak of? This is Tougas Farm. (Cue classy “When Harry Met Sally”-esque background music.)
Located approximately 40 miles from campus, Tougas Farm is a self proclaimed haven of, “Fresh fruit, fresh air & family fun!” Well, they don’t lie. I truly enjoyed my day, basking in the sunshine and frolicking amongst the pumpkin patch while eating more apples than my stomach knew how to handle.
Joined by fellow HBSers and members of the Partners Club, our little crowd had an extraordinarily good time that could only be properly understood by recalling the last scene of “Marley and Me” (remember when the family is playing football on their front lawn and Jennifer Aniston is jumping in piles of leaves? Alright, perhaps that’s not quite the right memory to recall…) But something precious of the nature. You get the idea.
Now, I know my audience here. You will be glad to hear that there is a bit of strategy to this apple-picking endeavor. Luckily, I am SO kind, that I will share my secrets with you.
1. Choose the BIG bag.
There is the dinky apple bag, and the there’s the awesome apple bag. The dinky bag is enough to hold 10 lbs. and costs $20. The awesome bag holds 20 lbs. (that’s half a bushel!) and costs $30. The dinky bag will barely serve your apple recipe needs. I mean, what’s the point of driving to the farm and then not even getting enough fruit to fulfill your dreams of becoming an apple-butter jamstress? If your bag gets so heavy that you can’t really even lift it, you know you’ve had a successful day at the farm.
2. Map out your journey.
This may not be the gardens of Versailles, but you still need to know where you’re going or else you will be trapped in a maze of hay and pumpkins. Once you get off the hayride, there is a point person giving direction on the varieties of apples available. LISTEN TO THE MAN. He knows what he’s talking about, and he gives wonderful tips on which apples hold up the best in pie-baking. Yum.
Macoun, Jonagold, Topaz, Empire, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Gala, Courtland, Musu… there are more variety of apples than leaves in the trees. Pick the ten types of apples you wish to collect and then strategically make your way through the orchard. You don’t want to be ready to head to the car when you realize that you missed the Empires on the other side of the farm. Bad news bears.
3. Target the inner-orchard.
Avoid the outskirts of the farm. You may become prey to the rule-worshipping workers who stalk the orchard in search of the lawless.
True story: I got in trouble. I may or may not have picked an apple from the tree, realized it wasn’t the optimal shape and color, and perhaps dropped it on the ground. Faster than you can say “Jonny Appleseed”, a farm employee leapt over the hedge and, in his kindest voice, began lecturing me on the importance of not wasting food.
Well, of course he was right. All the same, I realized that I was an easy target because I was on the edge of the orchard, and my shenanigans were visible to the watching eyes of the farm. Pick your apple variety, and then steer a few rows inward. You won’t be sorry. And you won’t get in trouble for your follies.
4. Don’t leave without a pumpkin.
Just don’t. Your humble abode will thank you for this simple and decorative nod to the autumn season.
All rule-enforcing farmers aside, Tougas Farm is a delightful little hamlet that will satisfy all your quaint New England-ish longings. Apple pie, anyone?