Apple picking season 2011 in full swing

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:42

WARWICK — An increase in local traffic is a good sign that Warwick’s annual apple picking season is in full swing. And local orchards are open for pick-your-own-apples daily from now until early November. Local varieties include Golden Delicious, Macintosh, Cortland, Red Delicious, the new Honeycrisp and more. Visiting many of the farms has become a traditional family outing, especially for people living in the heavy populated boroughs of New York City and the surrounding Metropolitan area. Many of the farms offer wagon rides, children’s entertainment, petting zoos and music along with picturesque areas to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch. And some feature wineries and markets or country stores displaying a variety of items including honey, jams, local produce, pumpkins and apple ciders. Local orchards offering pick-your-own apples include Apple Ridge, Applewood, Masker’s, Ochs, Pennings, Wright and Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery. But when the weather is good, traffic on weekends often mirrors that of Applefest. And around holidays, such as the recent long Columbus Day weekend, which was blessed with spectacular weather, it’s not uncommon for traffic on Route 17A to be backed up to Mt. Peter and beyond. It’s understandable that local residents, sitting in stop and go traffic or forced to thread their way along alternate routes to their destinations, can be annoyed by the invasion of day trippers. But for the community in general, the apple-picking season is a shot in the arm for the local economy. “You have to look at the bigger picture,” said Mary Beth Schlichting, co-chair and past president of the Merchant Guild. “It’s not just the restaurants and merchants that benefit from the apple picking season. The orchards hire our kids. And they spend money on local services like printing and advertising. It’s a ripple effect. We all benefit from this boost to our economy.”