In the North East, the moment September hits so does fall. The leaves start to change, you break our your scarves, and of course you start thinking about fall foods. New York is famous for its Apples (among other things), so as a friend from college and I planned out a mid October visit for this weekend, we decided that since we both miss New York we had to go apple picking. I immediately went to the website Pick Your Own.org and found an orchard about 45 minutes away from us and we were set. However, this morning when we went to look up directions we discovered that they ended their apple picking season early so we were out of luck. After doing further research on the website, we couldn't find anywhere within an hour that still had apple picking open (which was really disappointing as Nick and I go apple picking every year and I planned a ton of apple themed food for tonight and tomorrow). We ended up at Webb Ranch's pumpkin patch where we picked our own pumpkin and then bought some produce (including apples) from their farm stand, but it still wasn't as good as picking it ourselves.
The Pickyourown.org website is really great, though. It's a nation wide directory of many different farms that offer pick your own fruits and vegetables. It's organized by state and county. You can search through to see what's offered in your area, and then there is also a listing of local farmer's markets and stands. I think a section has also been recently added for farms in other countries.
Why should you pick your own? Besides the fact that it's a fun activity that the entire family can enjoy, the produce is often better quality because you're picking something when it's in season and it's not traveling thousands of miles to get to your plate. It's also fresher, cheaper, and most importantly you're supporting a local business. Nick and I do our best to participate in pick your own all year round. One year we did raspberries, I've done currants and strawberries too, and every year we do apples. Just call us The Appleseeds...
From two years ago at our favorite orchard near where I went to college in upstate New York: