October at Yale means the weather gets colder, the nights grow longer, and midterms push away lingering thoughts of summer. Yup, it’s orchard time.
In the New Haven area alone there are about a dozen orchards — all of which are in peak season this week. But not too many of your classmates ever make it out to these hallmarks of Connecticut autumnal culture.
“It’s actually really fun,” Heather Thompson ’05 of Bloomfield, Conn. said. “It’s kind of different because most of us don’t spend time picking apples or being in the fields — even though it’s something that shouldn’t feel so exotic to us. You’re in a different world — it’s quiet and peaceful as opposed to being in the hustle bustle of New Haven.”
Despite her fond memories, Thompson, like several Yalies from Connecticut, said she took most of her trips to area orchards as a kid, not as a college student. These days, Thompson said she does not have enough time to go apple-picking.
Wyatt Golding ’06, of Bantam, Conn., said he has also discontinued the annual orchard trips of his youth.
“My family always went apple-picking in the fall,” Golding said.
Since he began his Yale career, Golding has only gone once, with the Outdoors Club.
Martine Alexandre ’07, another Connecticut native, said she has had a similar experience.
“It was a big deal when you were younger,” she said. “I have family in Bridgeport who take their kids to the orchards. They pick apples and turn [it] into an activity”.
So why don’t more work-weary Yalies seek sanctuary in acres of apples?
“I don’t think many people know there are many close by,” Thompson said.
Golding said not having cars might keep students away from the fruit-filled farms.
Martha Bell ’04, a New Jersey resident who has never been to an orchard in Connecticut said Yalies are probably “too lazy.”
Whatever the reason, though, Yalies are missing out on a unique feature of New England life.
“It’s part of New England’s growing season,” said Kathy Fay, who works in the farm store at High Hill Orchard in Meriden. “It’s just a real good place to grow apples. It’s been that way all along. It’s part of our economy and part of our agriculture.”
One way to make it out to an orchard this weekend is through the residential colleges, which often sponsor field trips to orchards. The Morse College Council is doing sponsoring such a trip this Friday.
At High Hill, visitors come to pick pumpkins as well, Fay said. They can also take a hayride up the slope that gives the orchard its name.
“It’s a really tall hill. You can see panoramic views for up to 60 miles on a clear day,” she said. “It’s one of the most gorgeous places in the state as far I’m concerned.”
Rose Orchards in North Branford also has a number of attractions besides its apples.
Gladys Rose, an owner of Rose Orchards, said her orchard has typical fare like a farm market, baked goods, and fruits and vegetables. But it also has a lot of attractions for youngsters, including a horse, two llamas, a goat, a sheep, eight rabbits, a turtle and some fish. It also has a hay maze and sells soft-serve ice cream.
So take some time to visit an orchard. You’ve got plenty of options. And, chances are, you probably won’t run into anyone you know.