It was a crisp autumn morning last Saturday. Temperatures had dipped below freezing for the first time this season and the sky was a clear and deep blue color. It was a day of many photowalks all over the world yet I choose to do a drive in southern Onondaga County along Route 20 near LaFayette, New York with the Syracuse Photographers Association. Oh, there was plenty of walking as we visited three different apple farms.
Southern Onondaga County is also know as Orchard Valley and has several apple orchards. We started the photo drive at O’Neill’s Orchard. O’Neill’s has a small store with landscaping out front which had felt the effects of the frost from the night before.
It has been a tough year for apple and other fruit growers all over North America. The unseasonable warm weather last March brought out blossoms on the fruit trees very early and was followed by two freezing nights. Owner Keith O’Neill confirmed his orchard had lost eighty percent of the crop as he sat behind the counter in his store. He told us about a view up in the orchards behind his store but there were no apples anyone could pick from it. What was left of the apple crop was packaged on the store’s shelves or in crates along the back wall.
After enjoying some apple fritters at O’Neill’s, we moved down the road a bit to a different kind of apple product at the Beak & Skiff Distillery where they make artisanal vodka from apples.
Being early in the morning, we decided to take in the spirited view instead of the vodka. Actually, the view of the valley was the draw here. I would estimate the tree colors were about seventy-five percent changed as I looked north towards Syracuse up the valley. The nearby orchard had evidence of this year’s low apple crop production. On the ground under the trees was littered with decomposing apples not good enough to be harvested.
As morning turned to afternoon, we visited the Beak & Skiff Apple Farm which is the largest apple orchard in the county. There were hundreds of people here enjoying the warm and sunny day. Tractors pulled trailers loaded with families to the apple orchards to pick Golden Delicious apples. The greenish yellow fruit was the only trees left bearing edible apples. That did not stop people from climbing supplied ladders to fill bags and bags of them to bring home.
Beak & Skiff had many crates filled with Empire apples they had harvested earlier in the week people could gather if they liked their apples red. Otherwise, many city folk grabbed the apple picking instructions and headed out to the orchard. The large store and snack bar was extremely busy and I could not help to come away with a gallon of fresh apple cider and a peck of Cortlands. Hoping for some baked apple treats at home this week.
Last week, I heard about a blogging event by Robin over at Life in the Bogs calling for people to take a photowalk between October 8th and the 14th. Bloggers would then post their thoughts and photos from their walk and share the link here: Let’s Walk. Robin was kind enough to allow for not just walking but biking, driving and other kinds of transportation as long as it involved the process of photographing the journey.