time for apple picking & campfires
Almost like magic, the humidity disappears, cool nights emerge, and it’s time for campfires and apple picking! I always like this time of year because it’s not really summer, but not quite time for pumpkin spiced anything. If a day of apple picking, hiking, and ending with the warm glow of a campfire sounds good, then read on.
There are a lot of great places to go apple picking in the Lynchburg area. Many of the best orchards are closer to the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Shenandoah Valley. Each orchard has it’s own unique vibe, so depending on what you want to experience, one place may be better than another. Below are three places I have been, but there are many more nearby.
DICKIE BROTHER'S ORCHARD
My top pick is Dickie Brother’s Orchard. This beautiful orchard is located about 45 minutes away, in the hills of Roseland, VA. The secluded land has been in their family for centuries and has more than just apples. You can see the website for a full list, but I have bought fresh apples, sweet potatoes, and tasty peaches from them. This is more of a working farm than a tourist attraction, but does have a quaint store front with some antique machinery and equipment on display. For those that cannot walk into the orchard and pick, there are pre-picked apples and other produce sold in the shop. This orchard is peaceful, authentic, and has a beautiful landscape in the hills.
GROSS ORCHARD IN BEDFORD
Next on the list is Gross Orchard in Bedford. Also located about 45 minutes away, they start their apple picking season on September 1st. You can get peaches now, or visit their shop, and even see the blacksmith on Saturdays. Gross Orchard has been a family owned business for over a century and is constantly updating. My kids and my parents had fun at the orchard, plus it is close the Blue Ridge Parkway and Peaks of Otter.
JOHNSON'S ORCHARD IN BEDFORD
The last place on my personal list is Johnson’s Orchards in Bedford. This is the best place to go for the whole family. They have farm animals to visit, a lot of apples, local wine, and a shop. There are fun little buildings, and plenty to do besides picking apples. One thing to be aware of is that the trees are not as sectioned off from each other as other orchards, so it may be harder to pick all of the same type of apples. My kids and I had fun seeing the goats and turkeys; we got some really great pictures. Johnson’s Orchard is also close to the D-Day memorial and the Blue Ridge Parkway if you want to make a day out of it.
INTERESTING APPLE FACT:
Many of the “fresh” apples you buy in the grocery store can be a year old. When I worked in grocery distribution, I found out that apples are specifically developed and engineered to look and keep fresh in long term storage. Warehouses will store apples in refrigerated rooms and pump gas in to displace the oxygen. They only ship out what will sell, so the oldest apples are the ones for sale right before the next apple season. This kind of makes you want to pick your own… apples that are grown to taste good.
I love to have a good campfire. There is something about the warmth, soft glowing light, smell, and crackling sound that a good campfire makes.
This checklist below can help you get started:
Kindling - Every fire starts small so get some paper, small pieces of wood, dry sticks, or speed things up with a fire starter brick from the store.
Wood - You can buy wood, but that’s cheating. So gather some dry wood and have it ready near your fire.
Poker Stick - Every good fire has a poker stick, so don’t forget. Find one that isn’t too dry or it will catch on fire.
Roasting Stick - Either buy one, use a metal hanger, or get a green stick.
Smores - Get smore stuff on the way back from hiking - those square marshmallows are fun!
Chairs - You need a place to sit, so remember the chairs.
Water to put it out - Don’t forget to put the fire out when you are done - kids love this part.
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