Apple season ripe for picking in Hope

By Louis Bettcher | Sep 15, 2017
Photo by: Louis Bettcher Apples are plentiful at Hope Orchards this year.

Hope — Celebrating the change of seasons and, for many, an autumn tradition, the public was invited to visit Hope Orchards Sept. 15 for the first day of open apple picking.

Two varieties, Ginger Gold and Paula Red, are currently ripe for harvesting at the sprawling orchard, along with a new apple to the orchard, the bright red "Zestar" variety, available for purchase in the shop. By mid-October, up to 20 varieties will be ripe and ready for apple enthusiasts.

Emily Davis and her husband, Brien, have operated the business since 2000, and the orchard has been producing apples in Hope since the 1940s. Despite fluctuating rainfall over the summer, Emily said she anticipates a great harvest season.

"The September rain was a godsend; everything took off and the trees are in great shape," Davis said.

In addition, pumpkins, gourds and raspberries are offered on site, along with apple vinegars, apple butters and dried apples available in the orchard shop.

Traversing the six-acre property, visitors to Hope Orchards will notice an addition this year: the Davises have installed an extensive trellis growing system in one of the orchards. Here, 15 varieties of apple trees grow along the the wire trellises, their branches intertwined and heavily laden with fruit.

The trellis system allows for a more compacted growing space for the traditional orchards on the property, thereby creating a greater concentration of apple trees in a smaller area. The one-acre trellis orchard consists of 1,700 trees; the free-standing orchards are comprised of 1,700 trees spread out over five acres. An irrigation system was also installed to provide the trellised garden with plenty of water.

The bright red barn adjacent to the orchards has been renovated over the past year, converted from its previous use as a chicken barn to become an open event space, spread out over two floors. The renovation process involved raising the upstairs ceiling and installing new wooden floors to create an event space that will feature musical performances and storytelling nights this fall.

The air was fragrant and warm as visitors roamed the property Sept. 15. Nancy Lubin, who has been visiting Hope Orchards for years, had been looking forward to the first day of apple-picking all summer.

"I made a special point of taking time out of my workday to come do this today. No matter what else happens with my schedule this morning, this is something that I know will be great," said Lubin.

She said although it is wonderful to be able to purchase local produce in supermarkets, spending time outdoors is refreshing in a busy world where many people may be experiencing what she jokingly refered to as, "nature deprivation." As a result, she often revisits the orchards each week to see which new varieties are ready for harvesting.

"I appreciate the work they do here to support 'clean' agriculture, and I enjoy providing food for my family that's fresh, and supporting a local business in the process. I just saw a couple of bees when I was picking, and thought, 'There's somebody nearby raising bees and making honey.' This is all part of a big picture," Lubin said.

Hope Orchards is at 434 Camden Road in Hope and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Free-standing apple trees, at left, and the new trellis growing system at Hope Orchards. (Photo by: Louis Bettcher)
Nancy Lubin is among the first to pick fresh apples at Hope Orchards Sept. 15. (Photo by: Louis Bettcher)
Some of the first pumpkins of the season are displayed at Hope Orchards Sept. 15. (Photo by: Louis Bettcher)
In addition to fresh apples, Hope Orchards offers apple vinegar, fried apples and apple butter. (Photo by: Louis Bettcher)
Crabapples and raspberries are also grown at Hope Orchards. (Photo by: Louis Bettcher)
A view of Hope Orchards from the back of the property. (Photo by: Louis Bettcher)
The red barn at Hope Orchards has been renovated and will serve as an event space this fall. (Photo by: Louis Bettcher)
A row of apple trees at Hope Orchards Sept. 15. (Photo by: Louis Bettcher)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Sep 15, 2017 13:56

Congratulations for keeping the orchard open and providing people with fresh Apples and Jellies and Jams, OH MY!  In my younger day I picked apples for the Wentworth's and enjoyed the activities and the extra money. I was newly married and in my teens. Now  80 yr's +, I enjoy reading of the  new renovations there and the hybrid's in the orchard.  Joyfully, I am enjoying constant sunshine here in Arizona and say hi to all my former apple picking friends.

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