Fruit is at its freshest and most nutritious when you buy local— and it doesn’t get any fresher and more local than driving out to the farm and plucking apples right from the tree. Here’s where you can support local and pick your own apples in Delaware and beyond!
There’s nothing like the taste and texture of a nice, juicy apple. It’s the perfect snack all on its own: deliciously sweet or tart but nutritious and filling, all wrapped up in its own biodegradable packaging. I think a couple of sliced up apples served with cheese, peppers and crackers is an ideal, easy dinner during the last hot days of summer. And it lends itself so well to so many other dishes, from salads and salsa to pies and buckles.
The fact is, an apple that’s been harvested early and then ripened on its journey from New Zealand or another faraway place just isn’t as satisfying as one that’s been picked that day. It also doesn’t pack the same nutritious punch (vitamins start to degrade from the moment produce is picked). And it certainly doesn’t support local farms and bring money back into your local community and economy.
Here are five local farm favorites where you can pick your own apples in Delaware and the surrounding area, plus tips for when you go. Some farms have varieties that you won’t find anywhere else. Some are a great bargain. All are great fall experiences that you need to go try for yourself!
Pick Your Own Apples in Delaware
and Surrounding Areas
Fifer Orchards in Camden-Wyoming
Open for picking Fridays and Saturdays 10am to 5pm through late October; follow their Facebook page for weekly variety updates. It looks like Early Fujis ran $10 for a small bag and $25 for a large bag.
Private apple picking is available by request, weekdays for groups of 10 or more. The pumpkin patch opens for picking in October. 302-697-2141
TS Smith and Sons in Bridgeville
This farm is the oldest apple grower in Delaware. TS Smith and Sons grows twelve different varieties, with U-Pick available from July through mid-October. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to also pick peaches, corn or pumpkins.
They have a FB page but still say you’ll need to call to verify picking times on any given day, 302-337-8271. I couldn’t find any pricing on their pick-your-own apples but for reference’s sake, their Honeycrisps are selling for $2.49 a pound in their market.
Milburn Orchards in Elkton MD
Milburn is a very short drive outside of Newark. Their orchards are ripe for the apple picking Saturdays and Sundays, 10am to 5pm, through the end of October. There are by my count 19 varieties available for $1.65 per pound, and you have got to try the early Orange Honeys. Trust me.
Grapes and raspberries are also available for u-pick this time of year. Keep up to date on the picking schedule on Milburn Orchards’ Facebook page. 410-398-1349 or 800-684-3000.
Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA
Linvilla only grows a few varieties of apples, but they also offer a ton of other u-pick options! In the fall, depending on the week you happen to be there, you can pick your own tomatoes, pears, peaches, grapes, eggplants, peppers (sweet or hot), flowers, raspberries, and corn. The fields open at 8 am and close at 6:45pm, with the last wagon departing for the fields at 6pm.
Apples run $2.29 per pound ($2.99 for Honeycrisp), with a $5 minimum until September 10th. Here’s their Facebook page. 610-876-7116
Highland Orchards in West Chester
Highland offers apple picking all week long with a discount for weekday picking, when you can apparently drive on up into the fields. Harvest usually lasts through the end of October. Their pricing is a little more complicated: you prepay for your container, and the price drops the more you pick. The minimum is a 1/2 peck (about 7 pounds) at $12.
Get updates on on Highland Orchards’ Facebook page here. 610-269-3494
Some tips for pick your own apples in Delaware
… or anywhere
ALWAYS check before you go. Most farms and orchards have an email newsletter or a page on their website they make an effort to keep updated, but to get current intel on what varieties are available to be picked and possible closures due to weather, check their Facebook page or even better, call.
The fields get hot and kids get whiny. Bring water and snacks, wear hats and sunscreen.
Don’t eat apples in the field before paying for them! Look at the apples before you pick them; don’t discard ones you find imperfect. You’re taking money out of the farmers’ pockets and also attracting way more bugs to get in your way.
Remember that ugly fruit is just as delicious as seemingly perfect fruit.
Go with a plan. Decide if you need more tart apples for pies or relatively small ones for putting into lunchboxes. Mentally map out how many pounds of apples total you’re willing to buy and about how much that weighs, if you’re not paying by the bushel basket. You’d be shocked how easy it is for a family of four to pick over 20 pounds of apples… not that we’ve ever done that or anything.
That said, apples keep for quite a while in the fridge, so make some room in there ahead of time. You can also try my apple crisp recipe to get through a fair number of apples in one go.
Take lots of pictures and go every year! I love looking back at how my kids have grown.