Fruit Butters

Fruit Butters

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Red Picking Bag

As I was cleaning our Apple Shed in preparation for opening our U-pick apple business, I looked up and saw a lone red picking bag hanging off a harness hook. It's such a simple symbol of this exhausting, busy, fun and satisfying time of year my family has known for the last 38 years. My parents started offering U-pick apples in 1971. My dad recalls his grandmother, who lived in the farmhouse at the time, being doubtful that people would want to drive to the farm and pay to pick their own apples! But this was the start of agritourism and for the first few years we ran our apple business out of the garage, customers picking McIntosh and Cortlands into their own bushels and half bushels.
When we expanded the apple orchard and planted some of the newer varieties of dwarf trees (easier for picking), Dad purchased the first red picking bags for customers to fill and carry through the trees to weigh out at our Apple Shed. Those bags have carried a lot of fruit by a lot of families. Straps are tattered, bottoms are worn, and there is a trick to opening the bottom of the bag to carefully lower the apples onto the scale. Once unloaded, they are hung back up on the hooks for the next family to use, many times with a discussion of who is going to carry it. Of course the kids start out to the orchard with it easily slung over their shoulder, and the adults end up hauling it back.
Somehow those old-fashioned, simply designed red picking bags make the whole experience more fun and hold many memories for my family and others.

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