YORK COUNTY, Pa. — Central Pa. farmers grow some of the freshest fruits and vegetables in the country. There are plenty of orchards in our area that are just a short drive away.
This week, Travel Smart is taking you to a family-owned farm where you can pick your own fruit and enjoy some summertime outdoor activities.
Summer is berry season right here in Central Pennsylvania and there's no better way to enjoy the harvest than by going out and picking some for yourself. Mt. Airy Orchard in Monaghan Township, York County has more than 150 acres of fruit trees that grow some of the freshest fruit around.
“Mostly apples, the second biggest crop [we have] are peaches and then after that are the berries, so we have a lot of pick your own foods,” Karen Paulus said. “Right now it's blackberries, blueberries, and sunflowers.”
Wander down the seemingly endless rows of bushes and vines, picking right off the plant. The berries are some of the sweetest you've ever tasted.
Picking your own fruit is an adventure and presents a unique opportunity to connect with nature.
“When you go pick your own fruit, you are close to the plants, you survive on them and it makes you feel happy," Totarman Gautam, a visitor to the orchard said. “We can go to the store and probably get cheaper fruit, but it's not the same as going to the plant and picking your own berries."
Walking among the crops also provides insight as to where food comes from. While you're there, you can chat with the folks who grow the fruit themselves.
“You know your farmer," Paulus went on. "I get questions all the time about how we grow things and so I'm very happy to chat with people. Also, when produce has to travel, it's picked much earlier than when we would pick it here at the orchard. So our produce is going to be picked when it's ready, or you can pick it yourself and you can pick exactly what you want.”
The tasty treats continue inside, where you can find everything from freshly baked cakes and pies, to homemade jams and jellies, all made with produce picked right at the orchard. Some of the most popular items in the store, though, are the delicious fruit milkshakes.
“We use Hershey ice cream and we blend it with our own fresh fruit," Paulus told FOX43. "So blueberry and peach are the two biggest fruit milkshakes; they are very popular."
For the kids, Mt. Airy Orchards' Adventure Area has everything from duck races, to corn hole, to pedal carts. On any warm summer day, there's something for every member of your family to enjoy.
“It's just lots of fun," Paulus said. "It's a time to enjoy your family and get outdoors. Picking fresh produce, it's healthy, it's fun, it's a good time, you're making memories, there's lots of laughter."
Saturday, August 13, Mt. Airy Orchards will be holding their annual peach festival. The celebration will feature a pancake breakfast and a craft show with more than 50 vendors, as well as live music and free tractor rides.
Right around Labor Day, the apple orchards will open up for folks to go out and pick their own apples right off the trees. You can find more information here.