Pick Your Own
It’s that time of the year — time to visit a local orchard and eat an apple right off the tree.
By Laura H. Guion
Photography by Laura Jean Whitcomb
When the leaves start to change and the autumn chill hints of the end to summer, plan a trip to Windy Ridge Orchard in North Haverhill, N.H. If you’re coming from the opposite end of the Upper Valley, don’t let the drive deter you; it’s spectacular because of all the lush scenery, especially when the autumnal leaves are in full force.
This sublime location evolved over many years, beginning in 1968, thanks to the hard work of Richard and Ann Fabrizio. The farm had been Russell Dexter’s working dairy farm for 80 years. But when the Fabrizios took over, they planted a few apple trees — for fun — behind their house. At that time, Richard was employed full-time by the 4-H as the Grafton County agent, and Ann was a teacher. In addition to their professional lives, they have five children.
At the outset of this venture, the family members were the primary harvesters. In the 1970s they built a cider room and a sales room off of their home. In the 1980s a cold room was built for apple storage as another orchard block was planted. In the 1990s Richard retired from his job with the 4-H, followed by Ann, who retired from teaching a few years later. In their retirement, they have put many wonderful special touches on the farm and have created a location that rewards visitors with much more than just picking apples and pumpkins.
The 20-acre property grows 18 different varieties of apples. Mother Nature plays a big role in when they are ripe for picking, but generally apples begin to ripen from the end of August through the middle of October. It is best to check the website to determine the right time to visit.
When you’ve had your apple fix fulfilled, take time to roam through the nature trails. Your walk may take you over swamps or down an old logging trail. Walk the Adventure Trail or Deer path for a desirable walk through the New Hampshire woods. All are open to the public and lead to magnificent views of Bear Mountain, beautiful pastures, or even shelters and teepees that can be explored. If your feet get tired, then you might just want to hop onto a hayride for a trip back to home base.
You can easily spend the entire day at Windy Ridge. The farm has donkeys, goats, pigs and sheep which love to meet the visitors. There is a playground where children can dig in the sand and pretend to be farmers planting their orchards. The store is filled with delicious goodies like unpasteurized cider, pressed right on the farm; seasonal vegetables; honey; maple syrup; mums; gifts; crafts and Yankee Candles. And the Cider House Café offers sandwiches, homemade doughnuts, caramel apples, and warm beverages.
Windy Ridge was created through personal passion; you get the feeling that the family is opening their home to you. Once you’ve been to Windy Ridge, you’ll want to make it an annual trek.
Take a Trip
Hours and directions are online at windyridgeorchard.com
Originally published in the September-October 2011 issue of Kid Stuff