The Promise of An Orchard

By Sherry. It feels like apple picking weather here in Northern Virginia

Today we continue to celebrate the release of Seeds of Deception by Sheila Connolly, the tenth book in her wonderful Orchard Mystery series. Here’s a little about the book: The New York Times bestselling author of A Gala Event returns with newlyweds Meg and Seth Chapin who should be worried about writing thank you notes, not taking a juicy bite out of crime…

seedsofdeceptionWith the bushels of time they spent organizing their wedding, Meg and Seth didn’t have a chance to plan a honeymoon. But now that winter has arrived, there’s not much to do at the orchard. So with their shared love of history and all things apple, they pick Thomas Jefferson’s orchards at Monticello as the perfect getaway.

While they enjoy the beautiful sights, there’s a rotten addition to the agenda when Meg’s parents discover their handyman dead in the backyard. With a bitter police chief eyeing Meg’s father as a suspect, Meg and Seth have to cut their honeymoon short to find the root of the problem.

Orchards are wondrous places full of change, new beginnings, and falls full of fruit. Wickeds, have you visited any orchards? Do you have a favorite memory from one?

Edith: I’ve gone apple picking every fall for years. Lately I only have to go a mile away toimg_2778 the fabulous Cider Hill Orchard, where I stopped in yesterday for fresh eggs and cider, and where I take my young friends on our days together. I used to live across the street from Long Hill Orchards in West Newbury, and they had a img_1056late fall apple to die for. The variety is Spartan, and the flavor is so rich and winey, the texture perfectly crisp and not too watery – but alas they don’t pick them any more! I’ve searched for that apple at other orchards with no luck. So I might have to plant one.

Liz: Love orchards. I worked at one in college – Mann Orchards in Methuen, Mass. There was just something about the atmosphere in there that made fall come alive, from the smell of the apple pies to watching the bakers make the homemade apple crisp. I have some great fall memories from working there.

Sherry: My grandfather had a wonderful orchard on top of a hill at his farm in Novinger, Missouri. I loved walking through it and climbing the trees. It was ever changing bare branches, bud, blooms, tiny apples, trees laden with apples. My grandfather would graft branches from one tree to another to create new varieties. Their back porch was always full of bushel baskets of apples. It was a magical place.

Jessie: A neighboring town to mine, across the border into Maine, has many orchards. My favorite of these is Kelly Orchards where for many years my family has purchased  a crate of apples with which to make cider. We have an antique cider mill and invite friends and family for a potluck event every year at which we turn the 14 bushel of apples into gallons and gallons of cider. It is one of my favorite things to do each October. Everyone helps to grind, press or bottle and everyone takes home fresh, sweet cider.  That being said, my very favorite orchard of all has to be Old Orchard Beach, Maine!

violaapplepickingBarb: When they were young, we always took our kids apple picking. Our favorite spot was Tougas Family Farm in Northboro, MA. There was a lot of good-natured arguing, and cautioning, and carrying a tired child up from the bottom of the orchard–along with the apples. But it remains one my happiest fall memories. My son and daughter-in-law have continued the tradition with our grandchild. Last weekend they went apple-picking and did a corn maze and a hayride, and best of all–made an apple pie afterward.

Julie: OK, I wasn’t sure if I should admit this or not. The closest I’ve ever come to apple picking are stopping by a farm stand on the North Shore, getting a bag of apples and some cider donuts. Pitiful, I know. (I write about a town called Orchard for heaven’s sake.) Working on changing that this fall, though I’ve heard the drought has been tough on the apple crop.

Readers: Have you been to an orchard? Apple or some other fruit or nut?

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26 thoughts on “The Promise of An Orchard

  1. Thanks again for the mention! I guess I got imprinted early by orchards when we moved into a rental house when I was seven. The house sat on the site of what had once been a farmhouse, and whoever built it had left a stand of old apple trees in front of it. These trees were taller than a two-story house! The year we moved in, we had to cart off the fallen apples in a wheelbarrow, there were so many. Sometimes I could get up very early and see deer grazing under the trees. Almost magical!

  2. Milburn Orchards just down the road from me in Maryland. They do apple donuts that my menfolk will have a fistfight over. There’s a big backyard playground thing for kids, and a gift shop where I buy Christmas gifts each year. It’s a beautiful day. Maybe I should sneak out there for lunch.

  3. When the kids were little we’d take them apple picking and also strawberry picking. The first year we did the apple orchard in upstate NY we went with my brother and his 2 children. We brought home 4 large bags of apples to make pies for the holidays. When we came in for breakfast the next morning we found that one of our little elves had left teeth marks in over 20 apples. HE now has his own children to contend with.

  4. We’ve recently been apple picking and came back with apples, apple butter, apple donuts and pumpkin butter. So delicious and a great time outdoors picking apples with family and friends. Planning to go back before picking season is over.

  5. I grew up next to an apple orchard, in Adams County, Pennsylvania, still known as the largest apple producing county in the state. We meandered through the orchard to play, climb trees, set up a sled run between rows of trees during the winter (moonlight sledding – the best!), and, of course, pick apples. We had permission to pick up the drops. The golden delicious were amazing. That orchard was sold, and is now occupied by houses, but there are a few old trees still there. We continue a tradition of getting up to Adams County to get fresh apples, because we need really good apples to make apple strudel. Grew up making apple strudel for 15 (just our family). While in college, I convinced my mother to come to Philadelphia to make apple strudel for a fundraising banquet to benefit world hunger. She brought the apples and supervised a group of us making 60 feet of apple strudel. Reading this post may inspire some strudel baking this weekend!

    • Apple trees are the best for climbing! My sister and I climbed the ones on my grandparents’ farm all the time. I love the apple strudel story — did you get a picture of the 60 foot strudel?

      • Sherry, unfortunately, no. Moreover, it was 60 feet of strudel, but not in one stretch. We knew we had made 60 feet because we used the 10 foot banquet tables at the Newman Catholic Center kitchen to stretch out the dough but then loaded the strudel onto large baking pans. The four students who peeled and cut up the apples had blisters. Pre-Cuisinart days!

  6. When I was growing up in Sonoma County, there were apple orchards around, including new my grandma’s house, so I drove by them plenty. I don’t remember ever being in an orchard, and I know I’ve never gone apple picking. All those orchards have now become vineyards.

    However, we did go cut our own Christmas tree for many years growing up. It’s not an orchard, but it’s the closest I’ve come.

    • It’s amazing the amount of grapes they’ve put in! My friend’s family in Northern California has an apple orchard still and olive trees. I know olive trees are called groves, but they are orchard like!

  7. I have picked many an apple, and have many fond memories of going with my nieces and nephews and son to pick in one of the big orchards in central New York state (a LOT of apples come from there), then have cider and donuts. I haven’t picked in a couple of years, but now I want to! Sheila, congratulations on the new book. This is one of my all-time favorite series, and I’ve said more than once your Orchard series is one that inspired me to try my own hand at a cozy. Many new readers and many sales, my friend!

  8. Here in Louisiana, we don’t grow apples, but we do grow lots of oranges. I have fond memories of picking oranges in my grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s orange grove.

  9. My husband and I moved from the Midwest to California in 2001. I grew up in NW Indiana and remember going to Michigan for apples when I was little. I was bemoaning the lack of changing seasons here, when we discovered Apple Hill near Placerville, northeast of Sacramento. What a wonderful place! Several orchards in one location. You can get all kinds of apples, eat anything you can think of made out of apples and they have lots of apple-related accessories. You can pick your own or just buy them. You can also pick your own pumpkins for Halloween. I learned to make applesauce and apple butter (crock-pot’s the way to go!) and, best of all for me, it felt a little like fall in the Midwest.

  10. I picked apples just once, a few years ago right around the time I discovered that my stomach can no longer tolerate apples in any form: raw, baked, juice, cider, etc. I do miss them! My grandparents had an apple tree in their backyard and I have fond memories of picking and eating apples from their tree. They also grew all sorts of berries that we ate the minute we picked them. And no, they didn’t live on a farm or even out in the country! They had a tiny house on a tiny lot in a congested neighborhood. My grandmother had a very green thumb!

  11. My uncle Ralph Piper had an apple orchard is South Acton. I remember being there when I was a very little girl. Last time I was in that area I saw that where the orchard had been now stood a large neighborhood–and that many of the houses had an apple tree in the yard. That made me smile. (Today’s blog didn’t appear in my e-mail today. Made Wednesday very strange. I went on line to find you! Please fix! I don’t want to miss even one!)

  12. I planted a fifteen tree orchard of mixed fruit (apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums) after I moved to my current location almost 42 years ago. Only the apple and pear trees survive and I no longer have the energy to tend them.

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