Fall marks the transition from summer to winter, when days get shorter, nights come earlier, and temperatures drop. These changes make autumn the last chance to grow crops before the frost hits in much of the northern hemisphere. This explains why, before the 16th century, the season was known simply as the harvest (or haerfest in Old English).
Around Musselman’s plants in Pennsylvania and Michigan, apples are in full bloom in the orchards. We make most of our apple sauce from a mix of four local varieties: York, Rome, Golden Delicious, and Red Delicious. They all taste and look slightly different, but together make the best apple sauce around!
What fall fruits and vegetables grow where you live? Though it varies by region, some of the most popular are apples, beets, cranberries, figs, pears, potatoes, pumpkins, yams, and winter squash. But a number of others grow during the fall, too, such as arugula, celery, kale, okra, and persimmons.
As a family, plan an outing to a local orchard or farm, and see what’s sprouting up in time for the fall harvest. Consider these tips for making the most of your outing, and spend a memorable day outdoors celebrating nature – and your family.
- Don’t just look from afar. Go out in the fields and pick something to cook and sample at home together as a family. If you pick a pumpkin, roast the seeds for an afternoon snack. Then scoop out the insides to make a batch of piping hot pumpkin muffins. If you come across acorn squash, bring home a handful to stuff and turn into this warm, hearty Acorn Squash Sausage Bake, perfect for a chilly night.
- Make it active. Fall farms and orchards are full of outdoor adventure for the whole family. You can meander through a corn maze (some are even a mile long!), climb and jump over hay bales, get up close and personal with farm animals, ride a pony, and traipse through the pumpkin patch until you find just the right pick.
- Learn something new. As you make your way around the farm or orchard, talk to growers and ask questions about the harvest. How was the growing season this year? What variety of pumpkins makes the best pie? Do you sell produce year-round? If so, where can we find it? Before you go, take some time to learn about the lives of modern-day farmers, like Musselman’s Jim and Sarah Lott, a father-daughter team of growers who harvest apples for Musselman’s.
- Get creative. A number of farms and orchards offer a chance to put your imagination to good use and create something fall-oriented for your house. Look for opportunities to make your own scarecrow, fashion a wreath out of multi-colored leaves, turn your pumpkin into a planter, or create a birdhouse out of that funny looking gourd.
Whatever your trip to a farm or orchard brings, relish your time outdoors together as a family. Don’t pack in too much, but give yourself enough time to take full advantage of the many sights, smells, tastes, and activities the fall season offers. Remember, fall is the last harvest of the year, and (like your family) worth celebrating!
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