When we lived in New Jersey, my favorite fall activity was apple picking. Every year we went to the Orchards of Concklin and picked a peck of Macoun apples. It’s about 20 minutes from where we lived and there were about a dozen more orchards within an hour’s drive. When we bought The Oaks Victorian Inn and moved to Christiansburg I could only find 2 pick-your-own orchards near us, Johnson’s Orchard in Peaks of Otter (about an hour and 10 minutes) and Levering Orchard in Ararat (about and hour and 10 minutes). I was bummed. Too far to drive on a fall weekend when we have lots of guests.
2 weeks ago we had a honeymoon couple stay in our Garden Cottage. They told us that their wedding was at Doe Creek Farm which is a venue in Pembroke just 1/2 an hour’s drive from The Oaks and its a pick-your-own orchard too! OK now I’m psyched. A new hidden gem to explore. The following weekend a guest asked if we knew of any orchards, not too far from us where they could go picking. We sent them to Doe Creek Farm and they LOVED it. They even left me a gift of some fresh picked apples by the kitchen. Those apples were so good and crisp and tasty. I told Bernie that we had to go check it out.
We went this past Saturday. The drive west on 460 through the mountains is beautiful and in a few weeks when the leaves change it will be spectacular. Just off 460 in Pembroke, we turned onto Doe Creek Rd VA-613 and drove up to the orchard. The place was mobbed. We were lucky to find a parking spot. As busy as it was, it was well organized. The trees are in neatly marked rows. Labels at the end if each row has the variety name and a notation as to whether or not that variety is ripe yet. Their trees may be dwarf in height, making it easy for anyone to pick, but their apples are big in flavor. We picked about 20 pounds of Liberty and Staymareds. The Staymareds are the biggest apple I have ever seen, a good 4 to 5 inches across and both sweet and tart at the same time. There were quite a few other varieties available but those were our favorites. Of course there were goodies to buy by the scale at the register. I couldn’t resist getting a couple of jars of apple butter and a bottle of apple syrup. I’ve never had apple syrup. Staying with us on a morning when I make cheddar biscuits? If so, you can be sure some apple butter will be on the table.