24 Sep 2019

Fun in the Country

Apple-picking time is upon us and there is no better place to do so than here in own backyard.  Westchester and Putnam County are home to several outstanding fruit farms and orchards. The fun doesn’t stop with apple and pumpkin picking. There are a variety of things to do on any given weekend. Corn mazes, hayrides, music and a great selection of baked goods are available at most farms. The Christmas season is a magical time when families can select a pre-cut tree or choose to cut their tree. A day in the country picking your Christmas tree while enjoying hot chocolate and cider in the brisk, fresh air is an everlasting memory.

The history of the county’s farms dates back more than a century. Stuart’s Fruit Farm, the oldest apple orchard in Westchester County, has been family-owned since 1828, when James W. Conklin bought the 225-acre property from the Smith family. The farm, located on Granite Springs Road in Somers, was inherited by Mr. Conklin’s granddaughter, Emma, who would marry George Stuart. Current owners Robert and Betsy Stuart, and their family, are the sixth generation to work the farm, and still live in the farmhouse that was built in 1760. Stuart’s Farm offers fresh0picked peaches and apples or “pick your own,” along with a variety of locally grown fruit and vegetables. The bakery serves delicious donuts and muffins along with homemade pies. The Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving. You can cut yours or choose a pre-cut tree until December 24.

 In 1916 John Wilkens started the Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm on White Hill Road in Yorktown Heights. He began growing vegetable crops and also kept a few dairy cows. Wilkens’s nephew, also named John, took over the farm in the 1940s and by the 1950s was only growing fruit.  In 1970, Wilkens started growing fir trees for Christmas. In addition to fruit and Christmas trees, the farm has a market, a bake shop and a country gift shop. The bake shop and market are open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cut-your-own or ready-cut trees will be available November 30th at Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm.

Edgar Salinger bought property on Guinea Road in Brewster in 1901 to establish Salinger’s Orchard.  He started raising cows and chickens and growing vegetables on his 100-acre farm. By 1945, Edgar’s son Bob was running the orchard, and he began growing fruit. Today, Bob’s son Bruce manages the farm, growing 18 varieties of applies, along with peaches, pears and other fruit, while his wife Maureen bakes pies and treats in the bakery. Their retail market and bakery is open year-round.  

In the late 1800s, A.J. Outhouse started his farm on Hardscrabble Road in Croton Falls, New York.  Upon his death in 1943, his son Purdy took over the farm’s operations. At this time, Purdy began growing fruit and vegetables while his sisters baked donuts and pies. In 1972, his sons Wayne and Drew took the reins. Outhouse Orchards brings you that old-time farm atmosphere where you can pick your own apples or buy them at the farmstand along with honey, maple syrup, and baked goods. The orchard and store are open from September until Thanksgiving.

Finally, the Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard is located on Hardscrabble Road across from Outhouse Orchard. Robert Covino bought the 64-acre farm from Outhouse in 2011. In addition to apple-picking, the farm has a market with a variety of items, with a focus on local and organic, including local cheeses, milk, ice cream, and eggs. Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard is open from March until Christmas. 

So how do you decide where to start? You can’t go wrong. Pick the farm that sticks out most to you and after your visit, let us know why you liked it on our Facebook page at facebook.com/westchester.guest.

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