In recent years, the second Sunday in September has been dubbed “Maine Apple Sunday,” a chance to get out and herald the coming of fall by picking a peck, or simply taking home some fresh local apples and cider.

Here in the Lakes Region, things were buzzing at Five Fields Farm in Bridgton and Meadow Brook Farm in Raymond.

Fresh from picking, Suzanne Gianatzasio and son Andrew of Naples placed a full bag on the big old Toledo scale at South Bridgton’s Five Fields Farm: 13 pounds worth of fruit.

“We’re repeat customers,” Gianatzasio said. “We like to pick and we like to eat.”

Maine has a long and productive history with the apple. In the 1850s, the best source of income for a Maine farmer was an apple orchard. At one time, apple cider was the most popular drink in the nation.

Orchardist Tom Gyger said this year’s crop at Five Fields Farm is good. The remnants of hurricanes did minimal damage to heavily laden trees. Gyger said one of the worst events for an apple crop is hail.

“I have the good fortune of a very, very wise grandfather,” Gyger said. Five Fields Farm was started by John Gyger in the 1920s. “This orchard went 80 years without seeing a hailstorm. We’re at 850 feet of elevation; we seldom get hail or a late frost. There were some orchards in Standish and Sanford that suffered serious hail damage this year.”

With 70 acres in cultivation and seven apple varieties, Gyger typically runs the you-pick operation until Columbus Day.

Meadow Brook Farm in Raymond had plenty of pickers perusing its 20-acre orchard Sunday. Cheri and Rick Dwinnell offer 20-odd kinds of apples with a few antique varieties. The Dwinnells said they were fortunate to escape any hail damage this year. You-pick typically is offered through the end of October.

The Daigles, a Raymond family, were out picking at Meadow Brook Farm on Sunday. It took the family of four just 10 minutes to pick two pecks.

“There are so many apples; you don’t have to be picky. They’re all really healthy,” they said. “We make pies with them, apple crisp and a few baked apples, too.”

Repeat pickers, the Bouchers, of Windham, decided to give Meadow Brook a try this year. They went home with two pecks as well.

“It’s apple picking time,” they said. “We look forward to this every fall. We’ll bake pies with them.”

Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at:

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