Autumn Essentials

Apple & Pumpkin Picking Off the Hill

 You always want what you can’t have, right? Growing up in Hawaii, where it’s summer pretty much all year round, I spent years wishing for autumnal things. Cable-knit sweaters, jumping through fallen leaves, the crisp chill in the air. After three years of New England fall, I feel I’ve had my fair share of experiences: throwing fallen leaves in the air, anticipating the first snow, and of course, eating anything and everything made with pumpkin or apples.

Thanksgiving may be the main event, but the lead-up to the end-of-autumn holiday is just as good a time to load up on fall treats. It’s hard to deny the appeal of crunchy apples and warm, cinnamon desserts. And what better way to take advantage of the season than to go and get the fruits and gourds yourself? So don’t put it off—go apple and pumpkin picking as soon as you get a chance. In case you need more persuasion, here are a few reasons why you should join me in a pick-your-own adventure this fall.

1. I will make a confession: I have never been apple picking. But don’t let that invalidate my point. If anything, it’s even more of a reason to go. I regret making it to my senior year at Brown without going. I watched it happen around me, cheesy fall-themed posts going up on Facebook and Instagram, but I was too wrapped up in my own activities to go myself. Self-proclaimed lover of fall that I am, I wasn’t even following through with my own ideologies of the season. Number one goal for senior year? Go apple picking.

2. Apples deserve more credit than they’re given. It’s no secret that America is obsessed with pumpkin as soon as temperatures start dropping. The release of the Pumpkin Spice Latte is almost as highly anticipated as the next new Apple product (and we’re not talking fruit). The iconic gourd is trendy, the apple is traditional. New England is apple territory, with farms around Rhode Island and Massachusetts growing more varieties than you can count, so why not go the traditional route?

3. For students, pick-your-own is a great way to get off campus and explore the state, while getting piles of apples for a great price. Three years of living in Rhode Island for a good 8 months out of the year, and I feel like I didn’t really see the state until this summer. I’ll bet I’m not alone. In Rhode Island, there is no shortage of farms to choose from, with over 20 farms across the state that offer pick-your-own produce. Closest to Providence are Pippin Orchard in Cranston, Hill Orchards in Johnston, and Jaswell’s Farm in Smithfield. Hill Orchards and Jaswell’s offer hay rides to bring out your inner kid. If you’re looking for more of an adventure, make your way out to the corners of Lil’ Rhody you may not have seen before. There’s Manfredi Farms in Westerly, which has a corn maze in addition to their pumpkin patch, in case those philosophy classes aren’t brain-bending enough. Young Family Farm in Little Compton is holding a festival dedicated to apples in October. And Confreda Farms boasts a Fall Fest with carnival activities and food, hay rides, and a Corn MAiZE (pun absolutely intended).

4. Connecting with the food you eat is not just a trend, it’s an experience I think everyone should have. Meeting the farmers who grew the food right in front of you shows you who you’re supporting and connects you to your community. Plus, those apples you pick will stay fresh longer than the ones from the grocery store that traveled who knows how many miles to get to you. So sink your boots into the dewy grass of Rhode Island’s farms. It will grow your appreciation for our little state.

5. Though it is not nearly as ubiquitous as the Pumpkin Spice Latte, apple cider is available by the cup, bottle, or gallon at many of these family farms. Fresh pressed cider, warming against the cold air, is the perfect companion to wandering through the orchards. Or, take some home to reheat for those late nights studying.

6. Once you’ve picked bags of Honeycrisps, Macouns, and Galas, and get home to realize you may have brought back a few too many, grab some friends and preheat your oven. Traditional apple pie is great, but rolling a piecrust isn’t exactly dorm-kitchen appropriate unless you’re really ambitious. An easier version is apple crisp, which only needs a few basic ingredients. You can even do it at the Ratty. Though it’s a hit any time of the year—I’ve made apple crisp in the dead of summer despite roommates’ protests over turning the oven on—it is a classic fall staple that’s hard to resist. A microwave version is also fairly easy if you’re looking for something more simplistic: Microwave sliced apples in some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, then top with a crunchy granola—this one could even pass as breakfast.

What would a season be without the foods we’ve come to know and love? Log onto Pinterest right now and find endless recipes to indulge in. Getting your hands dirty, struggling back to campus on RIPTA, and hitting the kitchen for a few hours with friends is well worth taking some time away from schoolwork. And take it from me—you don’t want to wait until your senior year. And if I still haven’t convinced you yet, then I have two last words: cider doughnuts.

Apple Crisp:

6 Tbsp butter

½ cup flour

½ cup oatmeal

¾ cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

5 apples, peeled and sliced

Mix ingredients. Sprinkle mix over sliced apples in a baking dish or pie pan. Bake at 350? for half an hour.