By Amy S. White
The history of apples in Connecticut is about as old as the state itself, with the earliest record of cultivated apples in New England appearing in 1623. During colonial times, most farmers had apple orchards and cider mills since apples kept well, stored in their cool, dirt-floored cellars or turned into mildly alcoholic hard cider. The number of apple varieties grew, and the best were propagated and shipped widely as transportation technology improved. By the 19th century, Connecticut was considered a top apple-producing state.
This history can still be experienced today in autumn, when orchards across the state open their grounds and farm stands to apple lovers from near and far. According to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, over 60 varieties of apples are grown in the state Take a visit to one of our favorite orchards listed here to buy or pick your own to taste one of the state’s most enduring and treasured crops. Don’t forget to get some extra cider to use in one of our favorite apple cider recipes.
Note: This list was crowd-sourced and does not follow any particular order. We strongly suggest you call or check websites and/or social media pages for up-to-date information including hours of operation, pick-your-own (PYO) guidelines and availability.
1355 Boston Post Rd., Guilford
What started as a dairy and vegetable farm in 1871 now operates as a huge farm market, bakery, creamery, winery and, of course, orchard. PYO (pick your own) includes berries, peaches, pears, apples and pumpkins. The winery features award-winning fruit wines and hard ciders, both of which are available for tasting and purchase. With outdoor movie nights, trivia and live music events, there is always something fun happening at this popular destination.
Applebrook Farm and
216 East Rd., East Windsor
Nearly 1,500 apple trees produce 35 different varieties of apples at this local favorite where the Muska family grows everything they sell and sells everything they grow. Grampa Tony’s Apple Cider is especially popular with its optimal tasting blend of apples and excellent ratios of sugar, acid and aromatics. Don’t forget to pick up some cider donuts, made for the farm by West Springfield’s Donut Dip Bakery.
Easy Pickin’s Orchard
46 Bailey Rd., Enfield
This farm has been growing some of the state’s best produce for more than 50 years. They open both their apple orchards as well as some of their vegetable fields and flower/herb patches for picking. Their fruits and vegetables can be found at local farmers markets. They also run their own community-supported agriculture (CSA) program with full and half shares available.
12 Orchard Ln., Gales Ferry
Holmberg is a fourth-generation, family-run farm. Their market is stocked and open year-round with produce, baked goods and specialty foods. You can visit their orchards seasonally for PYO or go to their tasting room to try one of their grape or fruit wines, or hard apple ciders.
Belltown Hill Orchards
483 Mattson Hill Rd.,
Belltown Hill is a working, fourth-generation orchard growing berries, sweet cherries, 24 varieties of apples, pumpkins and Christmas trees. The on-site farm market sells fruits and veggies, baked goods including cider donuts, and jams and jellies in a corner called Grandma’s Pantry.
336 Longbottom Rd., Southington
Established in 1809 and now a Connecticut landmark, eight generations of family have grown fruit here. In addition to 20 varieties of apples, they also grow peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and pears. The bakery sells fruit pies, cider donuts and apple cakes, along with other locally made products. PYO is available on weekends starting in mid-September.
185 West Rd. (Rte. 83), Ellington
This aptly named orchard has 60 acres of dwarf apple trees producing 14 varieties, as well as 35 acres of peach trees bearing 11 varieties, both of which are available for picking. The retail stand sells native produce, Connecticut-made baked goods, apple cider and hardy mums in every color imaginable.
Beardsley Cider Mill
278 Leavenworth Rd., Shelton
Hay, turkeys and dairy cows have all been farmed and raised on this family-owned plot of land. Since the 1920s, however, the primary crops grown here are apples (more than 10,000 trees), peaches, plums and nectarines. Highlights here include small-batch cider, PYO, farm-baked pies and fruit breads, and a starter kit for making hard cider at home.
451 Sport Hill Rd., Easton
For 100 years and counting, Silverman’s has been open daily from April to December. This popular destination for family fun boasts a sweeping PYO orchard, scenic tractor rides, a country market and an animal farm. Berries, peaches and 22 apple varieties are available throughout the picking season.
108 Crystal Pond Rd., Eastford
Started in 1889 by Henry Buell, this family-owned-and-operated orchard in the “Quiet Corner” is still thriving four generations later. Apples, peaches, berries and pumpkins are all PYO. All types of produce, local corn, meat from neighboring farms and other local products are sold at the farm stand. They also host an annual Harvest Festival on Columbus Day weekend.
Wright’s Orchard and Fresh Farm Stand
271 South River Rd., Tolland
What was once only 250 semi-dwarf apple trees is now more than 2,000. The farm also offers stone fruits, berries and pumpkins. You can PYO or purchase already picked produce from the quaint store that also carries mums, winter squash, gourds, delicious frozen pies, apple cider donuts and more.
Blue Hills Orchard
141 Blue Hill Rd., Wallingford
For six generations, this orchard has been owned and operated by the Henry family. Located on the northern slope of Sleeping Giant Mountain, it covers more than 300 acres with 250 acres in apple production and the rest in peaches, plums and nectarines. They partner with Massachusetts-based Stormalong Cider to produce an unfiltered hard cider sold in cans. PYO is on weekends only.
Clark Farms at Bushy Hill Orchards
29 Bushy Hill Rd., Granby
A fall destination indeed, Clark Farms has it all: PYO apples, a café with pub-style fare and ice cream, a bakery, and a cidery with four different varieties. They are available for catering and can host special events at the farm. While you’re in the area, visit their greenhouse in Suffield for plants, vegetables, flowers and more.
250 Calhoun St.,
This family farm has been operated continuously since it was purchased in 1746 from the holdings of Chief Waramaug. Today, the 260-acre property is primarily a fruit orchard, but it also produces hay and Christmas trees. The grow more than 100 varieties of apples and pears, about 20 of which are available for PYO. The rest are sold on-site or at local farmers markets. They also carry their own cider, cider donuts, flowers, jams, jellies, locally sourced pies, mums, honey and more.
Hickory Hill Orchards
351 South Meriden Rd. (Rte. 70), Cheshire
In 1977, Doctor Fred Kudish and his wife Lynn purchased Hickory Hill as the future home for their family. With no agricultural experience or intention of being the farmers, they leased the property to outside fruit growers for their first year. Shortly thereafter, they turned the orchards into their passion project, with Fred as the farmer and Lynn managing the business. With more than 33 acres and an on-site country store, the orchard produces over 20 varieties of apples, peaches, pears, plums, and nectarines. PYO is open daily.
Rose Orchards Farm
33 Branford Rd., North Branford
Robert Rose sailed to the New World from England in 1634 and made his way to North Branford. The 11th and 12th generations of the Rose family still live on the grounds and maintain 50 acres of farmland that includes apple orchards, a creamery, a bakery, a market, farm animals, PYO, and Buck’s Grill, which is open for breakfast and lunch daily.
Irish Bend Orchard
90 Pioneer Heights Rd., Somers
This fourth-generation family orchard starts their harvest in August with peaches and continues into September and October with 11 varieties of apples and 6 varieties of Asian pears. Open on weekends, they offer pre-picked fruits and vegetables at the farm stand or PYO. You can often find them at local farmers markets.
251 Wallingford Rd., Cheshire
Originally started as a farm, orchard and wood mill in the 1800s, this property was purchased by the Drazen family and replanted using a trellis support system, which allows for maximum sunshine and optimal flavor. Besides many apple varieties, they also grow peaches, plums, pears, blueberries and quince for purchase at the farm stand (open daily) or for PYO.
494 Rte. 169, Woodstock
This is a family-owned-and-operated fruit and vegetable retail stand that also offers PYO apples and blueberries in season. Guests can enjoy watching the “donut robot” create made-to-order apple cider donuts that are sold in the bakery alongside pies, turnovers, crisps and other items made with farm-fresh ingredients. The store is open daily.
529 Woodland St., South Glastonbury
The Donderos have been farming in this location since 1911. They feature berries, apples, peaches, plums, nectarines and pears for PYO or purchase. The on-site farm stand carries baked goods along with their award-winning jams, jellies, pickles, and pesto. They host monthly family-style farm dinners from June to September and offer a CSA.
32 Reeds Gap Rd., Middlefield
No list of Connecticut orchards would be complete without including this one. Ten generations of Lymans have been farming here since 1741. Today, this year-round destination has a huge farm market, a bakery featuring their award-winning pies, sunflower and corn mazes, plenty of family-friendly events, a golf course with an on-site restaurant called 1741 Pub and Grill, and a CSA as well as PYO apples, berries, peaches, pears and pumpkins.
B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill
129 North Stonington Rd., Mystic
The only location on the list that is not an orchard, Clyde’s is the oldest steam-powered cider mill in the United States, and thus is a piece of living history. Every September 1, they open their doors and sell sweet cider, eight different hard ciders, cider donuts and other baked goods, more than a dozen types of apple wines, and a variety of local goods. Tastings and demonstrations are offered. They are open daily from September through December.
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