Autumn in Virginia: Apple Picking at Hartland Orchard
Fall is my favorite season in Virginia. Between the vineyard harvests, the apples and horse races, there's so much to do outdoors. And that's not to say Spring isn't beautiful in Virginia. Or that you shouldn't visit in Summer (only if you understand the concept of humidity), it's just that Virginia is at her best during autumn. Acting as unofficial tourism promoter, I'm just saying you'll want to come back after a visit this season. I make no promises in August.
Being a lifelong Virginian, admittedly sometimes years go by where we forget just how beautiful it is here. We spend time in our routine (which generally does not involve apple picking), get sucked into work and stop exploring . But I want that to change. Every time I post the scenery that seems so normal to me on social media, I always get back responses to remind me how stunning it is and how lucky we are. Coming off of a weekend in the desert of Arizona, I feel happiest in the rolling hills with fields and trees and rivers and so exploration has made its way onto the calendar.
For the best apple picking experience, find a good orchard that hasn't been picked over. Hartland is in Markham, Virginia and they have apples. LOTS of apples. The trees are loaded and there are rows and rows to get lost in. Because they grow so many varieties, apple season goes for two months with different breeds coming into peak season throughout September and October. Some of their apples are best for cooking, some of them are good for eating plain. But more than anything I think heading into the orchard to pick your own gives you a sense of appreciation for the produce you're bringing home.
I'll also give the advice to go first thing in the morning. It's cooler, there are less crowds (I want you to come to the orchard and bring your kids to understand farms, just not when I'm there for a zen experience...know what I mean?). And from a photography standpoint there's dew on the leaves and apples and the light is gorgeous. Just a perk.
By the way...I have no specific plans for these apples. You don't have to either. If you're looking for a sign to go out and enjoy the autumnal outdoors, this is it. Every excursion and every produce purchase doesn't need to be "figured out". Go forth and enjoy a cider slushie.
Happy first day of fall!
Dietitian Nutritionist and cookbook author sharing flavor-forward recipes and simplified science-driven wellness.