Fall always creeps in slowly. First it's a couple of red leaves here, some cool breezes there. And before you know it, the crisp days and beautiful colors are here to stay. Well, for a couple of months anyway. Fall goes as quickly as it arrives. The leaves on the trees get most of the attention, but there is another thing about fall that disappears just as quickly as those oranges and reds: the food.
Fresh cinnamon doughnuts that melt in your mouth. Apple cider that's both sharp and sweet. Raspberry pie. These are the things that keep me from moving to a warmer state. I can make it through the heaps of snow and outrageous electric bills so long as I get my fresh apple cider each autumn.
There are many local farms and orchards around Rochester where you can get all of these fall foods hot and fresh — and sometimes made from products right off of the tree. They are all less than an hour's drive from the city, and are certain to satisfy your need for fall food and gorgeous scenery. We've picked three farms to feature that offer very different fall-excursion experiences. But that's just the beginning. Consult the sidebar for a wider selection of area farms. If we missed one, please add it to this list at rochestercitynewspaper.com.
Hurd Orchards, located at 17260 Ridge Road in Holley, is perfect for an authentic farm experience in the fall. It's only 30 minutes from Rochester, but it couldn't feel further from the big city. You can pick your own plums and apples right off the trees, and wander through a field of pumpkins to choose the perfect one for carving. The jams, jarred fruits, and pickles sold in the store are made from produce grown right on the farm. This is food you'll feel proud to eat. The jams themselves are packaged so artfully they could stand alone as a centerpiece.
You can also bring some of this deliciousness home with you. Hurd Orchards offers a weekly "bountiful harvest box" that can be picked up at the orchard or at various locations throughout Rochester. Each box includes fruit, home-baked bread, farm fresh eggs, jam, and an assortment of fall foliage. Doesn't that sound better than another frozen dinner? Don't wait too long; Mother Nature has a short attention span. Plum picking ends in mid-September and apple picking goes into November. Pumpkins are available through October. The orchard is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through December. For more information visit hurdorchards.com.
A trip to pick up some of fall's best foods can also be great for families. Wickham Farms (1821 Fairport Nine Mile Point Road, Penfield) has fresh treats as well as lots of fun for kids. There is a giant corn maze, a mini-golf course, and a kiddie train ride. Kids can also feed the animals or try their hand at the batting cages. Meanwhile, grown-ups get to stuff themselves with real maple syrup and honey, cheeses, and baked goods made from scratch.
Best of all are the hot apple cider and cookies. Grab a bite, dig in, and sit and digest the autumn flavors while taking a hay ride around the pumpkin patch before you leave. Keep an eye out for your favorite pumpkin and take it home to carve. Wickham Farms is open daily 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and is only a 15 minute drive from Rochester. For more information visit wickhamfarms.com.
The peaceful scenery of fall is also a great time for a long, quiet walk. Whether alone or with a friend, a walk allows you to glimpse all of the season's colors before they disappear. The Apple Farm (1640 State Route 444) in Victor has two hiking trails that go through the farm. One trail meanders through Ganondagon State Historic site's fields, ravines, and streams. The other takes you to Boughton Park.
All of that exercise will earn you a trip to the farm's bakery, where cider doughnuts, tarts, turnovers, and pies are all baked fresh. Why wait for Thanksgiving dessert when you can get it there? Your grandmother will never know. The farm also sells organic and gluten-free foods in its store. Eleven different types of apples are grown on farm's trees throughout the year, most of which remain to be picked through November. Unfortunately, Rochester's winter-that-never-was and extremely hot summer damaged some of the apples. There may be fewer varieties this season. Check the farm's website (thevictorapplefarm.com) throughout the fall to see what is available. Apple picking is allowed daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The farm is only about 20 minutes away from Rochester.
The Apple Farm1640 State Route 444, Victor, 924-3420, thevictorapplefarm.com
Pick your own: apples
Buy at the store: organic and natural foods, donuts, cider, pies, tarts, turnovers
Burnap's Farm Market
7277 Maple Ave., Sodus
Kids' activities: corn maze, train ride, toy area
Pick your own: apples, raspberries,
Buy at the store: pies, breads, muffins, produce
Chase Farms Market
459 Pannell Road, Fairport
Pick your own: raspberries, pumpkins
Buy at the store: roasted sweet corn, mums, winter squash, apples, gourds
G and S Orchards
825 Atlantic Ave., Walworth
Pick your own: pumpkins, apples, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
Buy at the store: pears, tomatilloes, leeks, gourds, winter squash
Green Acre Farm (two locations)
3460 Latta Road
930 Manitou Rd., Hilton
Pick your own: raspberries, peaches, nectarines, prunes, apples, pumpkins, gooseberries
Buy at the store: apple cider, pies, fry cakes
2811 E. Henrietta Rd. Henrietta
Pick your own: pumpkins
Buy at the store: real maples syrup and honey, pies, cookies, donuts, popcorn, locally made cheeses, jams, eggs and more
17260 Ridge Rd., Holley
Pick your own: plums, apples, pumpkins
Buy at the store: jams, pickles, jarred fruits, and more
Kelly's Apple Farm
611 Old Wilder Road, Hilton
Pick your own: apples, pumpkins
Buy at the store: baked goods (from-scratch pies, breads), cider
6985 Lake Ave., Williamson
Kids' activities: apple sling shot, wagon ride, train ride, apple core maze
Pick your own: apples, pumpkins
Buy at the store: flowers, jams, fudge, apple sauce, honey, maple syrup
Long Acre Farms
1342 Eddy Road, Macedon
Kids' activities: giant corn maze, pedal go-karts, climbing wall
Buy at the store: homemade ice cream (open through October), homemade fudge, pies, fresh vegetables
Powers Farm Market
161 Marsh Road, Pittsford
Kids' activities: pumpkin patch, world's largest teepees, hay rides
Buy at the store: donuts, apple cider, homemade candy apples, plants
Pully's Farm Market
8160 Lake Street Road, Leroy
Kids' activities: pumpkin patch, pumpkin cannon
Buy at the store: flowers, apple cider, jams, apples
South Road, Scottsville
At the farm: pumpkin patch and a pumpkin cannon
Whittier Fruit Farm
219 Whittier Road, Rochester
Pick your own: apples, blueberries, pumpkins
Buy at the store: apple cider, ice cream
Free wagon rides on weekends
1821 Fairport Nine Mile Point Road, Penfield
Buy at the store: honey, maple syrup, cookies, cheese, hot cider, pies, pumpkins, apples.
For kids: hay ride, mini-golf, corn maze, train, batting cages
163 Burritt Road, Hilton
Kids' activities: world's largest corn maze
Buy at the store: apple fritter, cider fried cakes, cherry/chocolate turnovers, apple-caramel bread, pies, cinnamon rolls, apples, artisan cheese and more.