Bluemont :: Great Country Farms

When I was growing up, my family spent a lot of time on my grandmother’s ranch. While it was primarily a working ranch, she had her own tiny orchard by her house on top of the hill. It was a small collection of orange, persimmon, cherry, and flowering pear trees. And I have vividly fond memories of standing under those trees as a child and watching her pluck oranges into a basket for fresh squeezed orange juice or handing us pears ready to eat. And I learned there is nothing in this world that can give you the same flavor as a fruit picked straight off the tree, when that tree is grown in good solid soil and shown love.

Those are hard experiences to replicate. While I plan on starting our own vegetable garden at our house here and would love to plant an apple tree or two, that’s a ways off in our future. Lucky for us, there are some absolutely wonderful pick-your-own farms not far from us! One is Great Country Farms, about an hour outside of D.C. in the beautiful little village of Bluemont.

Bluemont is less town and more village, and reminded us a lot of some of the historic British towns we visited on our last trip. A little more modern, maybe…but not much. Lots of stonework and masonry, lots of small curving country roads through the woods, lots of rolling hills. Far enough outside the city to really get the country feeling that touches my heart, but close enough that you can still get in for a day at the museums or touring monuments and cherry blossoms.

Great Country Farms is 400 acres of working farm situated out in Bluemont. Along with the apple and pumpkin picking fun it offers, it’s a family owned business with a bustling market, CSA program, lots of kid activities, and gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge foothills. For a $10 entrance fee, you can run through a corn maze, shop the market, ride the tractors out to the apple orchards and pumpkin patches {you pay for what you pick when you get back – and the prices are really reasonable!}, listen to live music, watch cider pressing, and take part in a number of other activities.

We picked an absolutely gorgeous day to get out there and pick. The high was only in the low 70s and the lows were in the 50s that night. It was the perfect chance for us to break out some of our cold weather clothes and not feel like we needed to change in the middle of the day. In other words, my Scandinavian genes were still warm, but perfectly happy.

We boarded one of the tractor-trams behind the market and headed out to the orchards. There, we were met by a pair of guides who offered bags and told us what signs to look for. The farm opens and closes different areas of the orchard for picking to preserve the ripeness of the fruit and to make sure that the orchard gets picked evenly.

The Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apple sections had just been opened, so we picked a generous bushel of those. We were also able to add some Fuji apples, a few Gala apples, and a few sweet Red Delicious to the mix. Thanks to Scott for being kind enough to hand model for me!

With our two bags full, we headed back to the market, bought our apples, dropped those off in the car, and headed back for more exploration. Since it was around lunch time, we decided to grab lunch at the farm’s Roosteraunt in back. It looks small, but everything is made fresh on the spot, and it’s absolutely delicious. You can sit on the porch, eat, and watch a cider making demonstration in the process – and try a little of it out while you’re at it!

Wild Hare Hard Cider was offering samples of their latest, and we couldn’t pass that up. In case you couldn’t tell from the picture, my husband is a big hard cider fan. We walked off with a bottle of their Harvest Moon after falling in love with its crisp white hibiscus and juniper flavors.

We walked off our lunch in the Lady Liberty Corn Maze at the back of the farm. It’s absolutely huge, and it’s one we could have gotten lost in if the kind folks at Great Country Farms hadn’t left clues on how to get back. The clues came in the form of trivia questions about, you guessed it, Lady Liberty – when the statue was erected, the date on the book she carries, and so forth. This pair of former New Yorkers did her justice by finding our way easily out of the maze – but racking up some steps in the process! How better to burn off some energy and make room for apple pie?

My Apple Health app pegs me at 9,326 steps for today, or 3.02 miles. Most of that was walking around the apple orchard and corn maze, although I did run around the house a little bit, putting things away and doing chores, when we got home. We decided to range out far into the orchards in order to find apple trees that the large numbers of families with small children wouldn’t make it out to – and our tactic succeeded!

Maybe a little too well…

This should set the stage appropriately for all the apple and apple cider recipes you’re going to see from me over here! We love our cider – plain, mulled, and hard – and you can use it in so many things! And there’s always baked apples, apple pies, apple crisp, apple butter, apple sauce, and so forth and so on. And, of course, my fall favorite – cider donuts. I can’t wait to share these with you!

Great Country Farms

  • Open daily 9am – 6pm {last tractor ride goes out at 5pm}
  • 18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont VA 20135
  • It costs $10 to gain entrance to the park, and apples are typically $1.99 per pound
  • For more information, click here or call 540-554-2073

Are you guys you-pick fans? What’s your favorite food to pick?

About the ChefKristin

Career Army officer with a tendency toward workaholism. On the side, self taught cook, carpenter, and gardener, working to build a beautiful life for my family. Trying to tilt my balance in the right direction.

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