Celebrating Fall with Apple Picking Outside of the Big Apple


Outhouse Orchards offers a wide variety of fall activites including apple picking, a pumpkin patch and hay rides. (Courtesy of Facebook)

9:45 rolls around on a brisk Sunday morning, and my blankets don’t want me to move. I would have gladly listened, but I am supposed to be at the Ram Van Office in 15 minutes to go on the annual apple picking excursion. Apple picking is one of the quintessential fall activities in the Northeast, and for Fordham students, that means leaving the city and heading north. This year Ram Van’s Maintenance Coordinator team selected an orchard in North Salem, N.Y. called Outhouse Orchards. “Don’t be fooled by the name,” the invitation read, “[Outhouse Orchards] is a beautiful place.” 

I rip the covers off and try to put together a fall ’fit, do my hair and fix my face before running out the door. When I arrive at the office, I am greeted by a sea of colorful flannels and brown boots. Everyone is fully embodying the autumn aesthetic. In my frenzied rush, I somehow managed to look the part with a purple and brown shacket (a shirt and jacket hybrid), black jeans and black boots. 

Orange, red and yellow lined the horizon as our van drove deeper into the rural regions of New York. After about 45 minutes of scenic views and windy roads, we passed the red apple-shaped sign that read, “Outhouse Orchards,” in cheerful white lettering. We jolted around as the van pulled into the bumpy, uneven grass parking space. We had arrived. When we climbed out of the van, we saw a vivid scene of a series of picnic tables next to a large barn-looking building with several vendors on the perimeter. Past the tables to the right were rows of perfectly round pumpkins and other colorful gourds. The picnic tables were brimming with families and couples enjoying the sweater weather over a cup of hot cider. Our group found a table in the middle to put our things down and discuss what to do. The orchard itself is free admission (excluding the parking fee), but everything inside costs money. A hay ride is a flat $10 while the pumpkin picking price depends on how many pumpkins you pick and how much they weigh. Although both of these classic activities looked enjoyable, we decided we were here for one thing — apples. 

The apple orchards themselves are neatly tucked away on a side hill past the tables, tents and pumpkins. Before you enter, you have to purchase a bag, which is $35. That sounds expensive, but the bags fit a ton of apples, and many visitors choose to split a bag with someone else. I decided not to purchase a bag because I was sure I could snag one or two from someone. All 16 of us walked together up the hill like a giant family, and suddenly we were met by a fork in the road. Half the group went left and those with me went right. Barren apple trees lined the side of the dirt road as we walked. Though the views were exquisite, we were starting to lose hope that there would be apples left. “Maybe we should have gone the other way,” one person suggested in hindsight. But as we trudged onward, we saw some apples sprinkled in several trees. Delighted, we rushed over to the first tree. One group member, Sam Murphey FCRH ’24, grabbed the apple picker we had borrowed and reached up high to ruffle the apples dangling at the top. At first, he could not seem to trap the apples in the picker, but after a few tries, he successfully brought two apples down. Excited, other group members tried and laughed as they struggled with the picker. Apples were falling down so fast that there were consistent thuds every few seconds. Lua Jawdat FCRH ’24 grabbed a few that fell on the ground and told us to look. We watched in awe as she effortlessly juggled three apples. 

We lingered at our secluded spot before deciding to find the other half of the group. Retracing our steps and navigating our way up the grass, we eventually found the fork in the road. Walking left this time, we collided with the rest of the group when we turned a corner. Like a miracle, we saw rows and rows of trees chock full of apples with several happy families and children running around underneath. We gallivanted towards the commotion and went crazy, picking till our hearts’ desire and making a mess on the ground with all the apples that fell. Bags were bursting at the seams, and the conversations began about what people wanted to bake with their share. I did not have a bag myself, but I enjoyed a few bites of some spare fruit and stuffed some in my pockets to enjoy later. I understood then why the bag price was so steep. Less than half the apples we picked actually made it in the bag. 

After we had overfilled our bags, the whole group meandered back to where the picnic benches were. Some felt tired and wanted to leave, but the rest wanted to keep exploring. Four friends and I ventured to the store inside the barn-shaped building where they sell all things apple. Jawdat bought apple-scented soap, and I bought a very large apple pie. We gorged ourselves on our apples and apple products and enjoyed talking over apple cider. At one point, we were chased by curious honey bees trying to take a bite of our fruit. Regardless of whether we were picking apples off trees that were chock full of apples or trees that only had apple remnants, the pleasure of partaking in apple picking never dissipated. Outhouse Orchards was a splendid venue for all —families, groups, couples and even pets. During these last few weeks of fall, do yourself a favor and pick apples.