It's always a little startling to realize that the heat of summer hasn't finished letting go but the fall apples are already hanging in the trees. If the lower humidity and (slightly) cooler temperatures put you in the mood, you can find apple and pumpkin farms in our Pick-Your-Own Farms database, at www.charlotteobserver.com/food.
I was having lunch in Hendersonville on Sunday when I overheard a visiting family asking the guy behind the cash register at Mike's Soda Shop about an apple farm - "Mountain Top, Top of the Mountain, something like that?" The cashier answered him with "Sky Mountain." Wrong on both counts: I'm betting he was looking for Skytop in Flat Rock, a longtime favorite among apple fans. You can find the directions, hours and correct name for it in our database, too.
We always get a couple of apple and pumpkin farms calling in late summer, long after we compile the list in spring. Here are a couple that didn't make this year's database:
- Hodges Family Farms in Mecklenburg County has pick-your-own pumpkins along with family activities, such as hayrides, pony rides and a corn maze. It's at 3900 Rocky River Road East; 704-494-0107. Open daily from Sept. 25 to Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to dark. Get the details at http://www.hodgesfarmnc.com/.
- Windy Hill Orchard is at 1860 Black Highway in York, S.C., with pick-your-own apples, fresh apple cider, farm tours and fresh-made apple products. Apple picking started in mid-August and continues until Christmas. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and noon-5 p.m. on certain Sundays (Sept. 19, Sept. 26, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10). Details and directions: http://www.windyhillorchard.com/.