By Beth Rasin
Whether you prefer a serene afternoon in nature or plenty of activities for the children, there’s a northern Virginia orchard offering just what you want.
The Stribling Orchard in Markham, Virginia, offers apple picking from mid-August through early November. Starting in September of each year, they also offer apple cider and pumpkins.
If you’re looking to stock your shelves or pick up some “made in Virginia” gifts, visit their Harvest House for cider, jams, honey from their own beehives, jellies, hot sauces, local eggs, salsas, cheese, eggs and peanuts. On weekends after Labor Day, their bakery is open as well for breads, pies, cakes and other treats. Their apple orchard, family-owned for six generations and almost 200 years, covers 30 acres, and they have another 15 acres of peach trees (which you can pick in July and August).
While at the orchard, you can visit farm animals and see many historic buildings.
Combine a trip to the Stribling or Hartland orchards to include wineries like Naked Mountain, Chateau O’Brien, Fox Meadow or Aspen Dale, all in close proximity to Markham. School trips also are welcome.
Stribling Orchard: Open Tuesday-Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; 11587 Poverty Hollow Lane, Markham, Virginia, 22643; 540-364-3040; striblingorchard.com.
HARTLAND FARM ORCHARD
Also in Markham, Virginia, you’ll find Hartland Orchard, where you may pick cherries, apples, peaches and pumpkins — or purchase them already picked.
They also sell honey and cider and cider slushies, and if you come during the fall festival on weekends in September and October, you’ll enjoy everything from hay rides to a corn maze, a jumping pillow, pig races and much more. An entrance fee is charged for the fall festival. When winter arrives, you can come back to select your Christmas tree.
Fall Festival is open Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m.-6 p.m., Sept. 9-Oct. 29; check website for other dates. No dogs. School groups are welcome, and educational programs involving science, math and more are prepared for them.
Hartland Orchard: Open Monday-Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; 3205 Hartland Lane, Markham, Virginia, 22643; 540-364-2316; hartlandfarmorchard.com.
Hollin Farms in Delaplane, Virginia, welcomes visitors to pick their own fruits and vegetables at this four-generation family farm, with everything from berries and cherries to vegetables above and below ground, depending on the season. In September and October, in addition to picking apples and pumpkins, you can also dig your own peanuts and potatoes. See their website for information about pre-ordering grass-fed natural Angus beef.
If you’re lucky, you might get to meet Tom Davenport, a filmmaker and storyteller who grew up on the farm and will keep any child enthralled with his dramatic tales.
Make a day of a trip to Hollin Farms by combining it with a hike or tour through the historic buildings at neighboring Sky Meadows State Park.
Open Wednesday through Sunday; typical hours are listed below, but check their website for details on hours during specific fruit or vegetable picking seasons. No entrance fee. Dogs welcome on leash.
Hollin Farms: Open Wednesday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; 1436 Snowden Road, Delaplane, Virginia, 20144; 540-592-3574; hollinfarms.com.
GREAT COUNTY FARMS
If you’re looking for somewhere you can stock up on fruits and vegetables while also entertaining the children, Great Country Farms is your place. In addition to the 400-acre working farm and market, there’s a fishing pond, a jumping pillow, mazes, playgrounds, a cow train, petting zoo and much more.
Special events mark each season, with September offering an Apple Gala and Cider Fest each weekend, including cider doughnuts, and late September through October brings the Pumpkin Harvest Festival. The “Rooserant” serves everything from pizza to hot dogs and salads, as well as pies and ice cream.
If you want more of Great Country Farms, sign up for one of their Community Supported Agriculture plans, which provide you with a sampling of the weekly harvest from June to October.
Their barn is a great spot for a rustic wedding or company event, and they offer a variety of themed birthday parties, from gem mining (for children 5 and under) to bonfires to barnyard bashes.
If you’re thirsty after all the kettle corn, head up the mountain to sister properties Dirt Farm Brewing or Bluemont Vineyard.
Entrance fee for the farm ranges from $8-$12.
Great County Farms: Open Sunday-Monday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; 18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont, Virginia, 20135; 540-554-2073; greatcountryfarms.com.
MACKINTOSH FRUIT FARM
Growing more than 20 varieties of peach, Mackintosh Fruit Farm offers early, mid and late season varieties so its picking season extends from early July through early September. By grafting selected varieties on a root system, they’ve combined their favorite flavors and textures of peach with dwarf trees that can be easily picked from the ground.
Plan to make a day of it by bringing your lunch or buying it there, with options from pizza to salads to sandwiches. There’s a playground for children, a corn maze in October and special events take place almost every weekend, ranging from monthly farm dinners featuring homemade meals with in season fruits and vegetables to Apple Butter Day, complete with a 10k run in October. Sign up in advance for special dinners or the 10k.
If you have a big occasion coming up such as a wedding or birthday, they also host such events, with sit-down or buffet meals. If you still have the energy for more walking after your fruit picking, head to the State Arboretum of Virginia in nearby Millwood, where you can hike short trails (from ¾ mile to 2 miles) through woodlands, meadows or wetlands.
No entrance fees. Dogs allowed. Check website to see which fruits and vegetables are available for pick your own when planning your visit.
Mackintosh Fruit Farm: Open Wednesday-Sunday 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; 1608 Russell Road, Berryville, Virginia, 22611; 540-955-6225; mackintoshfruitfarm.com.
If you’re looking for as much of an amusement park feel as a farm experience, Cox Farms will keep your children busy on slides, mazes and much more during its famous Fall Festival. Picking your own is not an option here, but there is plenty to keep you occupied for family fun or just feeling young.
After you’ve milked a cow, taken a few hayrides, found your way out of the corn maze and danced to one of the bands, check out the market on your way out for some fruits and vegetables from the 116-acre farm. Each person gets a pumpkin with entry.
Many local schools take advantage of the farm for a field trip, and weekends are also packed, so be sure to arrive early.
Fall Festival previews Sept. 16-17, then is open daily Sept. 22-Oct. 31 and again Nov. 3-7.
Admission varies by date and size of group.
Cox Farms: Open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; 15621 Braddock Road, Centreville, Virginia, 20120; 703-830-4121; coxfarms.com.
CROOKED RUN ORCHARD
If you’re looking for something more peaceful, head to Crooked Run Orchard on the outskirts of Purcellville, Virginia, where you’ll find a farm stand and quiet country picking of apples, fall gourds and pumpkins on land first settled by the Quakers. Come back later in the season for Christmas wreaths, and then return next spring and summer for berries, peaches and seasonal vegetables. Crooked Run keeps its farm in as natural state as possible, with no roads or vehicles and no mazes or petting zoos, just the fruits and bees.
If the tranquil experience at Crooked Run has you in a nature-loving mood, head to the nearby Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship to spot some wildlife on their nature trails, ranging from 0.1 to 1.9 miles.
Typical hours are listed below but hours are dependent on season, so view their website for the latest schedule. No admission charge. Cash or check only.
Crooked Run Orchard: Open Tuesday-Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; 37883 East Main St., Purcellville, Virginia, 20132; 540-338-6642; crookedrunorchard.com. ML