By Megan Humphrey
Apples are such a sweet part of September and a common thread in so many memories of autumn. The fresh corn and juicy tomatoes give way to the smell of applesauce filling the house, apple pie delivered to friends, a bowl of apples on the table. Apples are hiding and we seek them out in a variety of ways … for ourselves and for our neighbors.
Lots of us are heading to our local orchards these days. Kids get to learn where their food comes from and adults gather the fruit to eat it in every way from sliced apples and cheese to a fancier galette. Every apple is a special treat that comes our way once a year. When the season finally winds down and there are still apples hanging in the trees, let’s make sure they’re all picked and shared.
The Pick for Your Neighbor program is such a simple concept. If you’re already at a participating orchard, you can just pick a few extra apples and leave them with the staff. They are then donated to the Vermont Foodbank and distributed to a food shelf or meal site. Pick for Your Neighbor is underwritten by Woodchuck Hard Cider with additional support from the Agency of Agriculture and the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association.
The Intervale Center’s Gleaning and Food Rescue program will coordinate apple picking at Yates Orchard in Hinesburg on Sept. 12, 20, and 26 and again on Oct. 10 and 17. The apples picked there by volunteers are distributed to food shelves and schools as well as to the 125 families that the program supports.
Volunteer gleaners can get hours through City Market member worker hours as well. The Intervale Center’s Gleaning and Food Rescue program will receive about 2,000 pounds of apples this year alone, out of a total of 20,000 pounds of gleaned food distributed in 2015. “It’s such a fall thing to do in Vermont,” said program coordinator Sarah Alexander. “And families who receive the fresh fruit are excited that they have something they don’t need to prepare, but can just eat immediately.”
The Apples to iPods contest encourages people to head to their local orchards, search among the trees, and find a wooden apple secretly hidden. In partnership with Small Dog Electronics, Woodchuck Draft Cider, and Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association, Nick Cowles has already hidden a wooden apple in the orchard. If you find it, you’ll get an Apple iPod, iPod Shuffle or iPad (awarded on a first-come-first-served basis), so start hunting. For more information visit http://applestoipods.com.
The 14th Annual Pie Fest will be held from 11am to 2:30pm at Shelburne Orchards on Sunday, Sept. 27. Thirty pre-registered double-crusted apple pies are taste-tested by three different judges. Prizes are awarded based on appearance, crust, filling, and overall First Place. There’s a $200 cash prize for first place.
If you’d like to enter a double-crusted apple pie, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.