Having spent four years in New England (and plenty more in San Francisco), I have come to adore apple picking as the canary that announces fall’s official arrival. So, as soon as the first day of fall came and went (without pomp, but with a lot of heat), I began my search for apple orchards in Alabama. I thought it would be an easy task. Not so. But, after a little digging into the depths of the internet, I stumbled upon Scott’s Orchard Alabama—well, almost.
The nice thing about being in Birmingham is that it’s pretty central. Atlanta is two hours east; Nashville is three hours north; Chattanooga and a handful of charming small towns are in easy reach. We flew up 65 (and I mean flew…traffic flows at around 85 mph here, not including the crazies in their monster trucks flying down the freeway at 90) past Huntsville and coasted down country roads and toed the (literal) line between Alabama and Tennessee.
We arrived at Scott’s apple orchard (Alabama side or Tennessee side, uncertain) and tumbled out of the car. (I did most of the tumbling, and it was from relief. I hate driving.) Immediately, the sticky warmth that I am still unaccustomed to accosted us, as did the smell of apple cider vinegar. (I later put two and two together and realized it was the rotting apples that had dropped to the ground.)
Cotton-ball clouds dotted the clear blue sky as the sun beat down—this was not a New England fall, that’s for sure. The last time I went apple picking, I was wearing four layers, tights, and boots. Today, it was a crêpe dress—the lightest thing I could get away with wearing. We weren’t even out of Fitz (car) five minutes and I was already working up a gentle (but still unladylike) sweat.
After picking up our little bag (we opted for a half peck for the pie), it was time to get apple picking. Though, I will concede that Amy and Emma did most of the picking as I straggled along with Gordon (camera). We had barely been there 30 minutes before our bag was full and we were fully sweating.
Together, we plodded to the farm store with hope of an apple cider doughnut. To my chagrin (doughnuts are the chief reason I apple pick), there were none. However, the apple cider slushies were most welcome. We threw in a gallon of cider and decided to call it a day, heading back to make the pie (which ended up being quite nice).
Though it didn’t quite measure up to a proper New England fall, apple picking at Scott’s Orchard was a pleasant way to force fall along in Alabama—it’s the middle of the month and just now dropped down to the 70s (aka what California feels like a large part of the year). The crisp, cold (!) morning air is doing wonders for the nostalgia.
Visit Scott’s Orchard, Alabama/Tennessee
- You will need to reserve online in advance.
- Bring water, especially if you’re going before mid-October. It’s hot like Hades.
- A half peck is plenty for a pie and a few extra apples for snacking.
- Pick up some fresh apple side and grab a slushy while you’re at it.
- There are no apple cider doughnuts.
- You can also pick up other supplies at the farm store: Fresh flowers, local honey, pre-picked apples, and other products.
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