Saratoga County

Fruit, fun lure visitors to farms

Bending under the weight of baseball-sized fruit, the apple trees at Bowman’s Orchards Sunday wer

Kenny Contursi, 5, and his sister Sofia, 3, of Clifton Park, ride the pedal carts at Bowman Orchards, part of Farm Fest, Sunday afternoon.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Kenny Contursi, 5, and his sister Sofia, 3, of Clifton Park, ride the pedal carts at Bowman Orchards, part of Farm Fest, Sunday afternoon.

Bending under the weight of baseball-sized fruit, the apple trees at Bowman’s Orchards Sunday were the main attraction for many of the people who arrived with with bushel bags to fill.

The orchard was one of seven stops on the town’s 16th annual Farm Fest over the weekend designed to introduce families to the rich agricultural history and the many flourishing working farms in and around Clifton Park. To participate, people picked up maps and took self-guided tours of the various farms, which offered demonstrations, activities, animals to view and, of course, food. The maps were available at all the farm locations, Town Hall and at Stewarts shops.

At the Vischer Ferry Fire Station, people pulled up chairs to long tables to fortify themselves with a hearty farmer’s breakfast, including eggs, pancakes, toast and sausage.

“This is the way I’d eat if I worked on a farm,” Nathan Griffin of Schenectady said, ladling fresh maple syrup onto his hotcakes. “Of course, I don’t work on a farm, but who’s keeping track?”

At Bowman’s Orchards, oblivious to the humidity and heat, children were jumping inside a giant inflated apple bouncey bounce and climbing around hay bales and on tractors. Many people headed to the apple barn, where the back storage area was separated by plastic sheets put up to keep the area cool to preserve the apples already harvested. Customers were leaving with bags full of green and orange gourds, small white pumpkins, squash and potatoes.

Other shoppers were there to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Cousins Cierra Grignon, 12, and Cheyenne Stockman, 5, of Waterford, stood by the candy bins selecting handfuls of lollipops, candy corn and licorice. Once known as “penny candy,” the lollipops were about 30 cents apiece.

Their mothers, Danette Grignon and Alyson Grignon made sure their shopping trip also included healthier fare.

“We picked 12 pounds of Honey Crisp apples,” Alyson Grignon said. “And we’ll be back a few more times before the fall. We do eat more than an apple a day.”

The family said they’d be back for pumpkins around Halloween and acorn squash for Thanksgiving dinner.

“I just want to ride a horse,” Cierra Grignon said.

For people wanting to pick apples in the comfort of their own backyard, potted dwarf fruit trees were on sale for about $30.

Farther down the road at Riverview Orchards, knee-slapping music from the bluegrass band, “Riverview Ramblers” had a handful of toddlers kicking up their heels, while the summer smell of grilled burgers filled the air. There were free hayrides into the maze of apple trees, rabbits, a doughnut “robot” churning out cider doughnuts, and an active beehive, safely ensconced behind glass.

Anna Mae Clark’s booth was attracting the wild bees with the scent of her homemade jams and jellies. People were crowding around her table to sample varieties from gooseberry to quince to spiced tomato, offered on crackers and then sold in old-fashioned canning jars. With 100 varieties available, Clark, of Charlton, offers her goodies inside the orchard’s bake shop but also takes them out on the road to various fall festivals.

“I’ve been making homemade jams since I was a teenager,” Clark, who is now in her 70s said. “My mother and grandmother taught me, and they’re still all natural.”

Clark said she grows most of the fruit used in her jams, and that sour cherry is the most popular.

“This is a way to help local farmers, and you won’t see the big companies out here talking face-to-face with customers,” Clark, wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat with flowers, said. “When you buy jam in the supermarket, you don’t know what you’re getting. Mine are 45 percent fruit and 55 percent sugar, and that’s it.”

At the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve, town Historian John Scherer led walking tours of the Mohawk Hudson Towpath trails along the Erie Canal Lock 19 area.

Double B Farms offered house jumping and riding demonstrations in a large horse ring, where the horses were easily clearing the jumps, even on turf muddied by the weekend rain.

At Schauber Stables in Ballston Lake, small goats, wagon rides and an obstacle course for children kept everyone busy.

Categories: Schenectady County

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