HILLSDALE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – It’s time to button up those flannels, grab a hot cup of apple cider and hit your local farm for some good old fashion fall fun.
Though it may seem too soon, the unofficial apple picking season kicked off this week in New Jersey.
It’s a popular fall pastime that extends through October, giving families a chance to hit the outdoors and spend time together.
“We love it, the kids absolutely enjoy it, they can run around, pick some apples, hang out with their friends,” Amanda Finck told CBS2.
Many farms offer hayrides through the fields and petting zoos. Plus, a chance to pick out your own fruit right from the source.
The most popular apple in the country is the gala apple, known for its juicy taste and vibrant color. In 2018, it became America’s favorite, knocking the red delicious, which held the title for decades, down to No. 2.
No matter what your favorite part, small, family owned farms enjoy having you.
“It’s generational, so a little 2-year-old child going apple picking today, 40 years from now is going to bring his family and say, ‘hey, I did this as a kid.’ And I think for farmers, that’s the most exciting for us,” said Jason DeGise, co-owner of Demarest Farms.
Ultimately, you’re helping to keep a small business afloat.
“We do 55% of our income in six weeks in the fall,” DeGise said. “Grandma Demarest would always say farmers are the biggest gamblers in life, because you never know what you’re going to get thrown.”
While the farming industry contributes more than $100 billion to the U.S. economy annually, it faces a number of threats, like extreme weather events, loss of land to developers and just a lack of farmers.
Owners say offering experiences, like apple picking, help them stay competitive with local supermarkets and provide hours of family fun.
Demarest Farms also offers Halloween hayrides, pumpkin and peach picking, as well as a first for the farm – a brand new holiday light show.