Orchard memories – Families flock to Island apple orchards

Dorothy Dahn, left, helps her seven-month old son Oscar pick his first apple at the Beamish Orchard in Cornwall. Dahn wants to make some lasting memories with her son and her husband Rob MacPhee. Sarah Seeley photo.
Dorothy Dahn, left, helps her seven-month old son Oscar pick his first apple at the Beamish Orchard in Cornwall. Dahn wants to make some lasting memories with her son and her husband Rob MacPhee. Sarah Seeley photo.
By Sarah Seeley
Oct. 3, 2014

Apple picking has always been a family tradition for Dorothy Dahn.
Now she is starting a family of her own and she wants continue the tradition.
Dorothy and her husband, Rob MacPhee, took their seven-month-old son Oscar to the Beamish Orchard in early October to pass down the memories from their childhood.
“Having a baby makes you do those things again. It’s a nice family outing,” said Dahn.
She heard about the orchard from friends while searching for organic orchards.
MacPhee hasn’t been apple picking since he was 10 and thought it was a perfect time to do it again.
“It’s a good fall sunny day activity. I also like supporting local farmers when I can.”
He even tried juggling the apples to entertain his family.
The MacPhees were just three of the hundreds of people who visited the Beamish Orchard.
Mike Beamish, the owner of the orchard, said Island apple growers are reporting a great harvest this year.
“We’ve had a great fall. The weather has been perfect for apple picking.”
Beamish has been growing apples since he planted his first trees in 1993.
“I had a desire to have a country life, so we decided to have a hobby orchard.”
Ten years ago, he switched from a conventional to organic orchard. Beamish and his family sell their cider and apples at the Charlottetown farmer’s market and they run a u-pick.
He also leads tours for school groups to educate them about apple growing.
Beamish is the president of the P.E.I. Apple Growers Association. The organization has seven registered orchards, but there are many other people who own orchards as well.
Apple growers were concerned about the harvest after a harsh winter. Mice multiplied under the deep snow and they killed many trees after chewing off the bark.
“Mice are some of our biggest enemies. They seem to love the bark of an apple tree,” said Beamish.
The heavy snow in February and March delayed pruning on many Island farms and slowed the blooming of the blossoms.
Despite the rough conditions, the trees are ready for the harvest season after a summer of ideal weather, Beamish said.
“We’re pretty well on track now. The trees seemed to catch up.”
The Island apple market is expanding, he said.
“Word is getting out that P.E.I. is growing some good apples. It has started to establish itself as a major crop in P.E.I.”
Families like the MacPhees come from all over the Island to visit local orchards and pick apples or purchase homemade products like cider and preserves.
“People think about apple picking in the fall because it’s part of the harvest season,” said Beamish.
Most P.E.I. u-picks are expected to be open until the end of October.

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