One of the first things that we started doing with our first child (9 years ago) was to visit a local apple orchard 2-3 times in the fall. Now, we are a booming family of five (three boys) and travelling to apple orchards are some of our fall highlights.
Travelling to a local orchard or pumpkin patch is an inexpensive, enjoyable, healthy, and an educational activity that anyone across the country can enjoy. In my opinion, there are five key rules that will enable you to have the best experience as a family.
#1 – Find a small orchard for the best experience. Large orchards can almost be like going to a mall with trees with prices to match. For the last 3-4 years, our family travels on backroads and small highways to a small, but dynamic, orchard about an hour’s drive away. On the drive, it gives me a chance to educate the kids about farming, how combines work, the lives of farmer’s, and point out old one room schoolhouses that their grandfather attended. This small orchard has a wide variety of produce, pumpkins, and lots of kid’s activities from corn mazes to obstacles courses and tire swings. The prices, as you would expect, are very reasonable. Finally, my grandparents lived on a small farm so going to a small farm is a bit of a homecoming.
#2 – Pick what you will eat. We buy only what we can eat, it is great to pick five pounds of apples, but have you ever tried to eat five pounds of apples? Expenses at orchards go out of control when you pick without purpose. Sample a few of each type of produce and pick only the best. This way, you get a wide variety of apples, a fun experience, maybe even a bit of a wobbly trip on an apple ladder.
#3 – Consider picking Pumpkins. I discovered Pumpkins are a lot cheaper. Around Halloween, prices of pumpkins in stores can go through the roof and can make my face resemble that of a jack o’lantern when I buy five. With our children, we let them find and pick their own pumpkins. This has become a great family experience with each of them pulling and carrying their pumpkin back to the shed to check out. The reduced prices of orchard pumpkins nearly pay for the trip itself when compared to grocery store prices.
#4 – Make apples into inexpensive treats. Before you leave, have a plan what to do with the apples. Apple pie, homemade applesauce, apple turnovers, and warm apples on waffles are only a few of the possibilities. You can also eat the apples just as they are! Having an activity the evening you get back or the next day where the kids make their own apple treats is another inexpensive family activity.
#5 – Be mindful of the add on’s. One year and $20 in uneaten Apple jelly later, we became aware that the last minute additions to the checkout cart really add up. Remember, apple orchards are a business too. Feel free to have a splurge for an apple doughnut (I highly recommend them) or some cider, but keep to very reasonable quantities and make sure it’s in your monthly budget.
Apple orchards are an inexpensive and enjoyable family bonding activity for the fall. Selecting a small orchard, ensuring you pick what you eat, obtaining inexpensive pumpkins, and then watching the add on’s at the checkout counter will ensure an inexpensive experience combined with an incredible fall day. Have a great time!
Share some of your recommendations on how you made an apple or fruit orchard an amazing family trip while not breaking the family budget!
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Author Bio: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 230 articles in over 140 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics. Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better. Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University. Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and www.CombatToCorporate.com.
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