Although yesterday's weather in the mid-80's didn't exactly feel like fall, when Lev and I pulled onto the gravel driveway at Fo'Castle Orchard in between beautiful apple trees bursting with fruit I knew fall had definitely arrived. The orchard itself is lush and gorgeous, at the end of the driveway is a perfect reproduction of the General Philip Schuyler House and a tidy barn sits opposite the house. A large pond sits alongside the house. The farm itself isn't too big, it has eight acres and the trees are what are called "semi dwarf", meaning that they only grow to about 10-15 feet. These little trees are the perfect size for little ones, there are plenty of apples within their reach and it is easy and not too far to lift them up for the higher ones. Plus, the fact that it is a smaller farm means not a lot of walking for tired little feet but you still can pick a variety of different apples. This orchard has a really appealing casual family feeling to it, compared to some of the bigger, more business like farms. I got a chance to meet the owners, Caran and Alan Colyer, and the text on their business card, "Apples and Sometimes Peaches" really captures this feeling. Apple picking here couldn't be easier, there is a little shed set up to weigh the apples, a simple chalkboard sign instructs visitors to come to the house for service, and a big clear sign lets you know which apples they currently have for picking. Right now they have Cortland, Jonagold, Macoun and Empire. The ones Lev and I picked were the Jonagold, big and fat and a beautiful perfect apple red. They have no website, but you can call them at (518) 399-4144 and get all the information about what apples are available for picking on their answering machine message. They also will inform potential pickers if they are open in inclement weather on the answering machine message as well, and they are usually closed in the rain so call ahead if the weather is looking iffy. They are open until around the end of October every day from 10-5, and the apples are 85 cents a pound, you can buy your own bag there for 35 cents, they don't take credit cards, cash or check only.
On the way home we of course had to stop by the FoCastle Farm Store as well in order to pick up some cider donuts. The Farm Store is run by Alan Colyer's daughter and her husband, and it is just as charming as the apple orchard. It has a cozy old fashioned feel to it and is full of well priced, crafty things for the home, toys and candy, and also offers baked goods like pies and donuts and cookies as well as artisan breads and other treats. The candy section looks like it must have back when the farm was first established in 1908 with big drawers full of 5 cent candy for little visitors (or bigger ones with a sweet tooth). Right now their selection is heavy with seasonal items for the home, with everything from decorative touches like little red apples and leaf garlands to candles and banners and everything you might need to make your home festive for fall. They also have plenty of unique gifts for kids and adults alike, and I already have a mental list of Christmas items going for about five different people from their abundant selection.
The store also offers a great breakfast (weekends only) and lunch menu (served daily) which you can eat in front of a cozy fire in the cooler months or in a beautiful airy sunroom in warmer months. The menu is full of specialty sandwiches and salads for lunch, and with everything from eggs, pancakes to french toast and country muffin sandwiches for breakfast you are sure to find something delicious. Located in Burnt Hills it is a close drive, the store is at 166 Kingsley Road and the orchard is just a few houses down on the right from the store so it is perfect to stop by both for a complete fall day, I know you're going to fall in love with both the orchard and the farm store as much as Lev and I did.