September 8, 2008

CONTACT:  Pamela Bartholomew
Agritourism Coordinator
(615) 837-53488

Think Local, Get “Global” With Tennessee Apples

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Forget cell phones, wireless Internet, flash mobs and blogging. There’s a cheaper, more timeless way to go “global” this time of year: head out to the country to pick up some seasonal spheres at an apple orchard.

Tennessee’s apple crop is ripe for picking to the tune of about nine million pounds statewide. After last year’s devastating late freeze and severe drought, Mother Nature seems to be making up for lost time in many parts of the state.

Just wandering around a local orchard on a beautiful October day is like a little vacation. You can’t help but respond to the fresh air, the sky, all the trees loaded down with fruit and the fall colors all around you; it’s really one of those outings that, once you make the effort to "discover” an orchard near you, you’ll want to come back year after year.

Another plus in a time when fuel must be squeezed and belts must be tightened: a visit to a local orchard is free of charge.

Mark Burnett of Oren Wooden Farms in Pikeville says stopping by their orchards, an easy find from I-40, is an annual event for many of their customers who want to be outdoors and experience a day on the farm. “It’s a chance to get away and have fresh apple dumplings with ice cream,” says Burnett. “People enjoy the relaxed country pace, especially now as the days turn cooler. Plus, we've really got a great crop this year."

Curtis Wideman, who farms Morning Glory Orchard in Nolensville agrees, saying, “We have a bumper crop of apples this year, after losing the entire crop last year.”

“We give educational tours on our farm about the apples we grow in our orchard,” says Wideman. “Children get to see all the different apples we grow, learn about the animals and insects in the orchard, and find out about the importance of pollination. Each child gets to pick an apple from the orchard and get to taste a fresh apple. They get to play games to find out what different things are made of apples, like apple pie, apple cobbler and apple cider. Two children from each group get to help make apple cider from a real apple cider press.”

 Most Tennessee orchards are open now and will have apples right up until early or mid November, but it’s still a good idea to call ahead to any orchard to be sure of individual hours of operation and availability of apples.
Jack and Sandi Bailey own Mountain View Orchard near Sevierville, where they tend a 1,500 apple tree orchard and a roadside stand for convenient farm-direct shopping.  “The apples had rain all summer long here in the foothills of the Smokies,” says Jack Bailey, “and that’s made the apples really juicy. This is a very good year for our apples, seeing that last year we only got a total crop of four bushels due to the freeze!”

The Baileys grow 10 different varieties of apples, but like many other fruit growers, they have a diverse farming operation. At their roadside stand, customers find Bailey’s apples and their homemade apple products like apple cider, apple butter, apple pies and apple donuts, but can also purchase pumpkins, winter squash and sweet potatoes. “Everything we sell, we grow ourselves,” says Bailey. “Nothing is stored and it all comes to you fresh from the farm.”

Flippen’s Fruit Farm in Troy is as famous for its fried pies as it is for the fruit on the trees, but operator Pam Killion says that weather conditions this year have contributed to a crop that needs to be tasted right off the tree as well as right out of the frying pan. "The apples this year are the most beautiful and the sweetest apples we have ever had on our farm,” says Killion. “It's the best tasting crop in years; people should come out to taste for themselves to believe it.” 

To locate an orchard near you, visit the TDA Market Development Web site at or call 615-837-5160 for a list of Tennessee orchards.