Apple economics

Going apple picking in the fall has been a tradition of our for a very long time, but it has been two years since we have gone. Year before last, we were still deep in the hard work of transitioning two new older children into our hearts and our family. I had no energy to go apple picking, nor did I have the energy to do anything with those apples if we had gone. Just surviving was enough for that season. Last year, we had recently moved, my canning supplies weren't even unpacked, and once again, going apple picking didn't seem like something we could tackle.

This year is different. We are more settled. Life feels more manageable. And I wanted to be able to make apple sauce. (Once you have tasted real, homemade apple sauce, I'm afraid there is no going back to the store bought variety. It spoils you.) Our usual place, which we love, is all the way in Michigan. It's kind of a long way, so we thought, "There are plenty of apple orchards around us. Surely we can find one that will make a reasonable substitute." With my mom in town, it seemed like a great way to spend a Saturday. The rain even held off for the most part.

So we head off. After a brief tour of J.'s work place, we arrive at the orchard. There were no prices listed for apples on the orchard's website, but I thought it would be fine. We wander around looking at all the pay-to-play venues, and finally find the orchard. Unlike other orchards we have picked at, this one requires you to buy the bags up front, and not after you are done picking. Odd, but okay, we can do that. And then I looked at the prices.

And looked again, thinking I surely cannot be reading the sign correctly.

But, no, I read it correctly. If we wanted to pick a bushel of apples (and this was my mental minimum for how much we could really use), it was going to cost us $120. What?! This is crazy. It is also three times more than what I have paid at other places. I just couldn't pay that... even if it was for an "experience". We decide to try to find another orchard, though a quick glance at the area's offerings seems that everyone has gotten together and decided that $15/half peck is what the going rate is to be.

In the meantime, as J. and I are discussing alternate possibilities, the older children have been wandering through the store. D. comes out and tells me that I really need to go inside to look, because the picked apples are far less expensive than the u-pick ones. This seems crazy to me, but I go and look. He was right. (Not that I really doubted that D. could read a sign.) The picked apples were nearly half the price of the u-pick price. I have never been to a u-pick farm where this is the case, and I've been to a few. The craziest thing was the "applesauce deal". For $25, you could buy a 1/2 bushel of apples, but included along with that were a dozen quart sized canning jars. So we bought a bushel, and came home with a bonus prize of 24 quart jars. I don't get it.

Some children were a little disappointed that they didn't get to pick apples, though an apple cider doughnut helped. I also pointed out that we still had a few apples on our tree if they really wanted to pick something. I was told it wasn't the same.

Now I can make applesauce, which, since we are on fall break this week, I have time to actually get to. Next year? I think it will be worth the drive to go back to our favorite, reasonable, non "experience" orchard. So, P. Family, let's put a date on the calendar sooner rather than later so we can go back to our tradition of picking apples together, okay?

B. took a few pictures of the highlight of the day.


L., Y., K., and G.


Blaine Curry said…
Wow. Great photographer u have there

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