Why Picking Your Own Apples and Pumpkins is Sustainably Good

Pumpkin Patch
Photo credit (Photo: Frank DeBonis/Getty Images)
By Lori Melton

There are so many wonderful things about fall — from the crisp air to the vibrant colors of changing leaves. It’s also a great time of year to spend time with family and friends to go on hayrides, attend a fall festival, watch football, conquer a corn maze, or throw a Halloween party.

Visiting an orchard is one of the most popular fall activities. It’s also fun for people of all ages. Even better, picking your own apples and pumpkins is a good sustainable choice. Here are some reasons why.

Organic Farming Practices Help Protect the Planet

Before you go out picking, find an organic orchard. Most organic farmers follow eco-friendly agricultural processes. These practices help enhance soil and water quality, reduce pollution, and restrict the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides. 

So, fruit picked at an organic farm/orchard will typically have more nutrients and less pesticide residue than conventionally grown crops.

Buying Locally is Better for the Environment

Picking apples and pumpkins directly from the orchard where they are grown is better for the environment. Food grown locally doesn’t carry the large carbon footprint that’s associated with overseas plane travel or long semi truck hauls to bring produce to the grocery store.

Furthermore, picking and buying fruits and vegetables at a local farm supports a thriving community. When farmers make money, they can pay it forward to support other local businesses. Buying locally also helps preserve American farmland. Busy, profitable farms aren’t at risk of being lost to business developers who might want to build a new shopping plaza in the farm’s natural space.

Produce is Fresher

There probably isn’t a fresher apple or pumpkin than those that are picked at the height of the fall harvest season. Plucking an apple directly from a tree or a pumpkin from the patch, buying it instantly, then taking it home ensures that the fruit is at its freshest.

By comparison, produce that is transported by planes and trucks may take several hours – or even days, to reach a grocery store shelf. All the shipping time detracts from the fruit’s freshness. Chances are, if you’re visiting a local orchard it’s not too far from home. This means you’re reducing your own carbon footprint by reducing travel time to the farm and back.

Picking Your Own Produce is Healthy and Reduces Energy

In today’s tech-driven world, it’s increasingly challenging to “unplug” and pay attention to our surroundings. Spending a few hours picking fruit at the orchard provides a break from devices and puts people into a natural setting.

Furthermore, being outdoors has numerous health benefits, including absorbing vitamin D, which is good for bone development. Getting some exercise, breathing fresh air, and feeling the sun on your face can also cure the blues. 

Ultimately, spending any amount of time outdoors at the orchard reduces the energy that may otherwise be used watching TV, using a computer, or any activity which requires electricity.

17 Farms in the Northeast Follow Eco Protocol

Red Tomato is an eco-farming focused nonprofit organization that developed an “Eco Protocol” in conjunction with the IPM Institute of North America. The protocol covers seven key farming practices including ecosystem, soil, and water conservation, pesticide risk reduction, energy and waste management, food safety and product quality, and more.

In this initiative, farmers can grow certified Eco Apples, Eco Peaches, and more. As of 2018, seventeen farms across the Northeast implement these “righteous” growing practices. These farms represent 1,700 Eco Apple certified acres.

Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, New York earned the certification. The lower Hudson Valley farm is a popular destination for eco-friendly apple picking. A local family has run the farm for over 100 years. Notably, all the farm’s vegetables, berries, and farm-fresh eggs are certified organic. The produce is also grown without using any synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

Picking fruit at Fishkill Farms or any farm on the list is a sustainably good decision.