From growers to the governor, Rhode Island’s biggest agriculture advocates include apples among the state’s core crops.
They note that while had thinned some early season pickings from some orchards around the state, they want Rhode Islanders to know many apple varieties are still available and ready for picking this season.
On Wednesday, some of those advocates from the local, state and federal levels fanned out across Rhode Island to help get the word out. The “First Annual Apple Harvest Month Kick-Off” media campaign made stops at Pippin Orchard in Cranston, Barden’s Family Orchard in North Scituate, and in North Kingstown.
The team of representatatives from the Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association and the state Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Agriculture arrived at Sweet Berry Farm by mid-afternoon.
Kenneth Ayars, Chief of the DEM’s Division of Agriculture, read a proclamation issued by Governor Lincoln Chafee declaring September as "Rhode Island Apple Harvest Month" and Wednesday, Sept. 7 as "RI Apple Day."
Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association President Kerri Stenovitch noted that the event was already planned and in the works before Hurricane Irene hit the area. “A couple of those orchards were hit a little harder than others. But it’s always good to go out and support your local farmer,” she said of Wednesday's promotional campaign.
For Stephen Grenier and Sharon Slagle of Narrow Lane Orchard, Irene hit the orchard hard, taking down more than two dozen trees.
"We've probabably lost a couple hundreds bushels of apples because of the storm," said Grenier. "We still have a great crop and lots of apples."
The orchard, on Narrow Lane off Stony Lane boasts 1,200 apple trees and 400 peach trees on more than seven acres of land. With 10 varieties of apples and 13 of peaches, Narrow Lane has something to satisfy any fruit lover's palate. (See below for the picking dates for each variety.)
The orchard often hosts school field trips, where students get to pick their own fruit and venture down the mile-long nature trail. The orchard is filled with dwarf trees, which are several feet closer to the ground than traditional trees.
"When I see someone in a wheelchair come down and be able to pick apples, that I really enjoy," said Grenier.
Narrow Lane is also one of 24 commercial orchards that let customers pick their own fruit. Though the orchard makes most of its profit off pick-your-own sales, it makes appearances six days a week across South County at local farmers markets.
Narrow Lane accepts cash, Visa, Mastercard and Discover.
Apple Varieties & Picking Dates
- Redfree, Aug. 10 to Sept. 1
- Gala, Sept. 1 to 15
- McIntosh, Sept. 5 to 20
- Cortland, Sept. 10 to 30
- Macoun, Sept. 15 to 30
- Liberty, Sept. 150 to 30
- Empire, Sept. 20 to Oct. 10
- Jonagold, Oct. 1 to 20
- Crispin, Oct. 10 to 31
- Fuji, Oct. 20 to 31
Peach Varieties & Picking Dates
- Garnet Beauty, Aug. 1 to 10
- Red Haven, Aug. 10 to 20
- Raritan Rose, Aug. 10 to 20
- Bellaire, Aug. 10 to 20
- Mountain Rose, Aug. 15 to 25
- Canadian Harmony, Aug. 20 to 30
- Champion, Aug. 20 to 30
- Madison, Aug. 30 to Sept. 10
- Belle of Georgia, Sept. 1 to 10
- Redskin, Sept. 5 to 15
- J.H. Hale, Sept. 10 to 20
- White Hale, Sept. 10 to 20
- Jersey Glo, Sept. 10 to 20