October 11, 2007
their way through
Daily Titan Staff Writer email@example.com
By Kimberly Carroll/For Daily Titan Four-year-old Hamza Ghosheh helps his mother, Farah, carry a pumpkin at the Tanaka Farms in Irvine, California. Tanaka Farms features a “U-Pick” pumpkin patch where you can choose your pumpkin right off the vine.
There are few activities that capture the autumn season as well as apple and pumpkin picking. On warm Sundays during a California autumn in Oak Glen, large groups of families and couples can be seen wandering the ranches. Children run amongst the trees with their eyes peeled for the brightly-colored fruit peeking from between the branches. Parents wander along behind while encouraging their children and lifting them up so they can be the ones to pick the ripened fruit from the low-hanging apple tree branches. Couples both young and old lay out on picnic blankets spread across a grassy knoll. Meanwhile, on a sunny Monday at Tanaka Farms in Irvine, small groups of young ones scurry between rows and rows of orange, white and green pumpkins, pointing and shouting their approval and excitement. “You-pick” orchards specializing in pumpkin and apple picking are few and far between in Southern California these days, but areas like
Oak Glen – just over an hour from Cal State Fullerton – and Tanaka Farms – a little more than 20 minutes from the university – keep the spirit of fall alive. Oak Glen, in particular, is famous for its apples and its association with autumn. “Thats when ... the cider’s being made all the time, apple pies are coming out of the ovens and the fruit is ripe for the pickin’ on the trees,” said Devon Riley, owner of the business operations for Los Rios Rancho, an apple and pumpkin ranch in Oak Glen. While pumpkin picking takes a back seat in Oak Glen, the area offers a variety of apple-related activities, shops and farms. Boxes and bags of organic apples can be purchased, as well as freshlypressed cider, caramel apples and freshly-baked apple pies. Gift shops are also abundant. Some farms or areas even have small petting zoos. Many stores and farms offer free apple tasting and sampling of the different varieties of apples grown in Oak Glen, including younger varieties such as Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith, and older “heirloom” apples
It’s more of the experience and not really just picking apples to eat.
This season local farms offers the chance to gather apples, pumpkins and memories
– Mark Desimone,
Oak Glen Patron
such as Rome Beauties and Winesap apples, which can be grown from trees over 100 years old. The appeal of going apple picking is multi-faceted. The cost of picking apples varies from farm to farm, but usually averages around $8 to pick enough apples to fill a 3-pound bag. This can make it an inexpensive and thus nice outing, Riley said. For others, there is the appeal of being able to teach their children about growing the foods they eat. “When families come up ... they’re able to take their kids out and actually show them that the apple doesn’t come from the grocery store,” Riley said. John Sanders, contracted by Los Rios Rancho for marketing and publicity, said there is no comparison between a supermarket apple and an apple grown in Oak Glen. “If we set a supermarket apple and an Oak Glen apple in front of a blindfold[ed person], they’d be able to tell which one’s which,” Sanders said. However, not all visitors come to Oak Glen because of the way the apples taste. Mark Desimone of Orange said he visited Oak Glen as a child and returned to share the experience with his loved ones. “It’s more of the experience and not really just picking apples to eat,” Desimone said. “I could care less about the quality of the apples. It’s just fun; it’s relaxing.” Sharing the experience with loved ones seems to be a theme that car-