E, I, E, I, O...Wednesday, November 04, 2009
'Tis the season for apple-picking ... or at least, it was. After reading the recent feature on apple orchards in Connecticut magazine, I wanted to go sample the harvest for myself. So we set out for Easton a few weekends ago, to a place called Silverman's Farm. When we got there, we found out that apple picking had ended for the season, though families were still mobbing the place for pumpkins and tractor rides. (Tractor rides are like hayrides without the hay, as we came to find out -- at least we got to ride up the hill through the apple orchard and see the view from above.)
It was a typical autumn "country" scene -- kids and parents quaffing cider in little single-serve sippy cups, toddlers trudging around with gourds bigger than their heads, strategically piled bales of hay, the whole works. But somehow the whole thing reminded me of what Ada Louise Huxtable wrote about in The Unreal America -- nothing was quite, well, genuine. The pumpkins weren't attached to anything -- selecting them from where they sat on the ground was really no different than selecting them from a bin in front of the supermarket. Most of the edibles, jams and jellies in the small market weren't made on the premises; they were made "for" the farm, as the labels indicated, by some wholesaler who made them for lots of similar farm stores. And I believe they even had stuff from that standby specialty brand of all "country" stores, Maine's Stonewall Kitchen (usually found next to their Ohio-based gourmet-foods cousins from Robert Rothschild Farm). I certainly understand why they sell all this stuff, but part of me wishes that these places still actually produced everything (or most of their wares) and didn't have to rely on all the wholesale private-labeled stock. There's no point in shopping at a destination if all I find there is the same stuff I've seen elsewhere with a different label slapped on.
Still, it was a lovely fall day, and I ended up dashing off some super-quick sketches of the animals in the farm's petting zoo.