America's Best Apple Picking Farms
Bear Swamp Orchard, Ashfield, MA
An ultra-green picking experience can be had at this intimate orchard in western Massachusetts that has offered PYO only since 2008. Orchardists Jen Williams and Steve Gougeon eschew even the use of broad-spectrum pesticides approved for organic orchards. There’s no lawn-mowing here either: grass is kept cropped by a flock of recently acquired Shetland sheep.
What to Pick: The Freedom (a little-known apple variety that’s firm and sweet with a hint of tartness); the Liberty (sweeter and softer); and the Northern Spy, a tart late-variety apple perfect for pies.
Most Unusual Offering: The three-acre, 300-tree orchard borders the Bear Swamp Reserve, where you can hike miles of trails and get a bird’s-eye view over the apple trees.
Bells & Whistles: An on-site cider mill; free-range chickens; a farm stand selling apple products, eggs, and maple syrup made on the premises.