Fall for Apples

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R & A Orchards, a set on Flickr. 

There is something special about picking apples in the fall.  Ellijay, Georgia - located about an hour and a half north of Atlanta - offers the ultimate apple picking experience. R & A Orchards (http://randaorchards.com/), a family-operated orchard that is open year-round, is a must-see!  It provides an intimate experience in picking apples without the masses.  Of the several orchards visited, R & A was – by far – my favorite.  Nothing beats southern charm and a gracious staff!

R & A Orchards was established in1947, when Ann Futch’s father, Leonard Payne, planted his first tree.  A visit would not be complete without hearing “Miss Ann” tell you the story of her father and how/why he started the abundant orchards.

My leisurely walk in the orchards started with a lesson.  I learned that apples ripen from the outside of the tree towards the center, so the apples on the outside of the tree will ripen first. Picking apples directly from a tree is easy. Roll the apple upwards off the branch and give a little twist; don't pull straight away from the tree. If two apples are joined together at the top, both will come away at the same time. Don't shake the trees or branches. Once picked, leave the stem on the apples … they will last longer.

Winding through the numerous rows of trees, I stopped on several occasions to take in the beauty of the landscape.  I spent about an hour roaming the orchards and picking apples. 

My advice:  if you are going on the weekend, it is best to get a very early start.  It does get a bit crowded in the afternoon.   

Being a lover of history, below is a bit of apple history:

Apples originated in the Middle East (in an area between the Caspian and the Black Seas) more than 4000 years ago! They were the favorite fruit of ancient Greeks and Romans. Apples arrived in England around the time of the Norman Conquest (in 1066) and English settlers brought them to America in the 1600 and 1700s.

Johnny Appleseed really did exist; his name was John Chapman, and he was born on September 26,1774 near Leominster, Massachusetts.

Apple Facts:
  • 2500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States.
  • 7500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.
  • About 100 different varieties of apples are grown commercially in the United States.
  • Apples are grown commercially in 36 states.
  • Apples are grown in all 50 states.
  • Europeans eat about 46 pounds of apples annually.
  • 61 percent of United States apples are eaten as fresh fruit.
  • 39 percent of apples are processed into apple products; 21 percent of this is for juice and cider.
  • The top apple producing states are Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
  • Apples are a great source of pectin. One apple has five grams of fiber.
  • The pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit produce!
  • Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall.
  • Apple varieties range in size from a little larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit.
  • In Europe, France, Italy and Germany are the leading apple producing countries.
  • Apples are a member of the rose family.
  • Apples harvested from an average tree can fill 20 bushel boxes that weigh 42 pounds each.
  • 25 percent of an apple's volume is air … that is why they float.
  • It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.
  • Apples are the second most valuable fruit grown in the United States. Oranges are first.
  • In Colonial America, apples were called winter bananas or melts-in-the-mouth.
  • China is the leading producer of apples.  The U.S. is number 2 and then Turkey, Poland and Italy.
  • Newton Pippin apples were the first apples exported from America in 1768, some were sent to Benjamin Franklin in London.
  • One of George Washington's hobbies was pruning his apple trees.
  • America's longest-lived apple tree was reportedly planted in 1647 by Peter Stuyvesant in his Manhattan orchard, and was still bearing fruit when a derailed train struck it in 1866.

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Bonnie Morét is an award-winning photographer recognized by The Georgia Council of the Arts as "an exceptional representation of contemporary Georgia art work." Her photography is featured on Georgia Public Broadcast's Georgia Traveler. Her exhibitions include Fifth Annual Exposure Awards at Musee du Louvre in Paris, France, Art Takes Miami at Scope Art during Art Basel Miami, Metro Montage XIII at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, World of Water at the Georgia Aquarium, Open Walls at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon, Wholly Georgia: A Look at the Effects of Southern Religious Culture, sponsored by the Art History League and Georgia State University, at Mint Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, 6x6 at the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center in Rochester, New York, @Phonography: Dialogue in the Wireless Age, at 3 Ring Circus in New Orleans, Louisiana, and About Lands and Lives of the Civil War at the 6th Cavalry Museum in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. Her photography appears in Modern Luxury/The Atlantan, Jezebel Magazine, and hangs in the executive offices at the Georgia State Capitol as part of the Art of Georgia exhibit. Corporate clients include Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta History Center, Chanel Cosmetics, Christian Dior Cosmetics, Sharp Mountain Vineyards, PM Realty Group, Granite Properties, Road Atlanta, Patrón Tequila, Georgia's Own Credit Union, StubHub, CBM Records and The Washington Auto Show.