“You’re always welcome to just come, sit, and enjoy fall,” says Bill Jackson, co-owner with his wife, Shirley, of Jackson’s Orchard in Bowling Green.
You might find Jackson’s offer a lot harder than it sounds, however. More than a dozen activities are likely to rouse you from your seat, from hayrides, a corn maze, and 60-foot slides, to a goat ranch, petting zoo, and pony rides.
Then there is the food. Follow your nose to the orchard’s hot dog cart or treat yourself to a caramel apple, an apple sundae (similar to a caramel apple but easier to eat), or the orchard’s most popular use of the fruit—the classic apple pie.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the orchard being open to the public, although the land has been used as an orchard for more than 100 years.
“There is something here for everyone to enjoy for not much money,” says Jackson, a member of Warren Rural Electric Cooperative, “and we try to add something new each year. It’s a great way for a family to get out and have a fun outing.”
It also doesn’t cost anything to see the biggest attraction at Two Sisters Pumpkin Patch, located at a family farm in Montgomery County near Mt. Sterling.
Meet Petunia, a miniature donkey. Petunia has been a part of the fall fun at Two Sisters Pumpkin Patch for the past 15 years. She has her own following of kids and former kids who come to the farm each fall just to see her. But they also might have a go at the 8-acre corn maze, pick up a pumpkin or two or three, and ride around the farm in a horse-drawn or tractor-drawn trailer. The competition doesn’t bother Petunia. She’s just glad to see everyone again—so glad it caused a bit of a stir on the farm a few years back.
“We had to move all the locks where she couldn’t get to them because Petunia would get out to follow the kids,” says proprietor Andrea Webb Smith.
Two Sisters Pumpkin Patch, a member of Clark Energy Cooperative, attracts an average of 20,000–25,000 visitors each year. This is its 17th year in operation, and the family—Andrea and her husband Jeff Smith, sister Alecia Webb Trimble and her daughter Morgan White, and parents A.C. and Susie Webb—have now produced a cookbook, and Andrea has published a children’s book about the farm, written by neighbor Karen S. Klarke.
During September and October, farm fun includes bonfires at night by prearrangement, a barn brimming with animals to pat, pumpkin painting, pumpkin ornament making, and a concessions stand on Saturdays. A barn loft, picnic barn, and field picnic areas can be reserved for groups. Two Sisters grows 40–50 varieties of pumpkins, gourds, and squash, including Australian blue pumpkins—“the very best for making pies” Andrea says— and a huge selection of summer and winter squash. “We try to grow unusual things,” she says.
Kids can visit Petunia and her animal friends, as well as the corn maze, for free.
“We were so blessed to have grown up on this farm,” Smith adds. “It’s wonderful now that we get to share it.”
You may not want to share—your fried apple pie, that is—at Haney’s Appledale Farm in Nancy, a member of South Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative. The orchard has a bakery on-site that brings people back every year for fried apple pies.
“We try to have a family atmosphere out there,” says Don Haney, co-owner with brother Mark Haney. “The farm has been in my family for 150 years, and this is my 45th year raising fruit. People drive a long way to get here, and we love to have them. Many bring a picnic basket, stay the day, and make memories. They seem to like to meet the fellow who grows the food, and I really enjoy them.”
The visitors also love to snack on pulled-pork apple barbecue sandwiches, according to Haney. Plan a family outing to pick your own apples—they provide the baskets—and let the youngsters romp in the playground.
Here’s to fall.
Acres of orchards
To see if there’s an orchard or farm near you hosting a fall event, go online to www.kentuckyfarmsarefun.com and scroll down to “orchards, mazes & U-picks” to view the state agriculture department’s database listing of some fun farms.
Name that apple
Would you like a Lodi or a Mutsu? What about a Stayman Winesap or a Braeburn? Perhaps you are more familiar with a Golden Delicious or Fuji.
Each kind of apple has an important role to play. To learn more about apple varieties and find the one you might like best, go online to Haney’s Appledale Farm at www.haneysappledalefarm.com.
Debra Gibson Issacs from September 2015 Issue