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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Old-Fashioned Fall Fun at The Big Apple Farm in Wrentham, MA

Article and photo by Eric H.

The Big Apple Farm, located in the tiny Sheldonville section of Wrentham, MA, serves as an old-fashioned working American farm in business since 1950 and a rural community travel attraction on over 200 serene acres.

We consider The Big Apple Farm the best local farm in the southwest Boston suburbs, a salt-of-the-earth destination that favors authenticity over tourist trap cheesiness. For starters, there's seasonal fruit picking, including apples in the fall (all picked over for the 2008 season, unfortunately), raspberry picking in July and blueberry picking in July and August. For those looking for something a bit more sweet, the Big Apple Farm's bakery and donut-making facility turns out some fantastic baked goods, most notably the cider donuts, hand-dipped candy and caramel apples, apple crisp, blueberry muffins and homemade pies (including blueberry, strawberry rhubarb, pumpkin and Boston cream). There's even an ice cream stand with a cozy, adjacent indoor porch overlooking the peaceful Big Apple fields. The 20-plus flavors of ice cream -- courtesy of the local, legendary Richardson's of Middletown, MA -- includes current special "fall" flavors like apple crisp and pumpkin!

The produce section can be limited, depending on crop abundance and the time of the day, but what The Big Apple offers is fresh-from-the-field fruits and vegetables that put supermarket produce to shame. We've tasted some wonderful cucumbers, green peppers, onions, cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, eggplant, raspberries and blueberries. The list of fruits and veggies goes way beyond what we've sampled, however with 28 types of vegetables and 24 varieties of apples. It's a virtual wonderland for those in search of local produce, but we recommend calling for current inventory before traveling to the Big Apple. The farm stand also features locally produced honey, maple syrup, fudge, Vermont cheese, candies, jams, jellies and preserves.

The apple grader is a fascinating Big Apple attraction. Visitors can view the whole process on a platform overlooking the machines sorting the apples by weight onto bagging tables. The apples then land in a washing machine, and through a conveyor belt leading to a dryer, and a polisher. The apples then drop into cups that end up in the appropriate grading table that is in their weight range. Workers then sort the apples by "firsts" and "seconds," then into bags, and onto the farm stand shelves.

Current fall events at The Big Apple include hayrides, and a well-developed pumpkin patch. It's a beautiful time of the year to visit the Big Apple as each visit seems like the prototype of what an autumn local farm visit should be like -- a friendly, inviting place with the sweet smell of apples in the air, seasonal events, local foods, and nice countryside with foliage.

New York City might be famous as "The Big Apple," but in our New England neck of the woods, the Big Apple Farm satisfies us just fine!

The Big Apple
207 Arnold St
Wrentham, Ma
Tel. 508-384-3055
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