Apple Harvest

Photograph courtesy Brighton Digital Archives

Circa 1900

At one time, most of the small farms in our area had an apple orchard that produced a healthy crop. During harvest, specially angled ladders were propped up in the branches and the apples picked and placed in hand-hewn black ash baskets that were strong enough to handle the heavy produce. The fruit would be stored for the winter in the family’s root cellar, waiting to be baked in apple crisps, crumbles and pies.

The moderate climate along the north shore of Lake Ontario encouraged some farmers to concentrate solely on apple production, and in the late 1800s, apples became the backbone of the local economy. Orchards ran like ribbons up and down the undulating hillsides that sweep up from the lake. In September the crops were picked and sorted; some of the apples were pressed for cider and juice and others packed in barrels to be shipped by train to markets in Montreal and Toronto or even as far away as the United Kingdom.

Orchards still flourish in our region and farmgate market stalls are overflowing with the season’s bounty. Many growers are reviving the heritage varieties with names like the snow, the transparent, the Tolman sweet and the spy, all delivering different tastes and textures.

[Fall 2023 departments]