A guide to apple picking for college students

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(Photos by Stephanie Arndt)

Apple picking is one of Michigan’s signs that fall has arrived. There are several things I can think of that we Michiganders prefer fresh, but our water and our fruit are the most prominent two. This weekend my friends and I took time away from studying to make the trip to Crane’s Apple Orchard in Fennville. I have no regrets on that decision—no college student should. This is a guide on how to do it right.

Wake up early

Seriously, do it. There are a lot of things that I treasure about my weekends, and none are as valuable as my freedom to sleep in. However, the sight I saw at 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning was not pleasant. Everyone and their brother goes apple picking on weekends, so if that’s the only time you have then you’re going to want to beat the lines and go earlier in the day.

Travel with friends or family
No one goes apple picking alone. It’s an unwritten rule. This is not grocery shopping, where you go alone to be in and out in a rush; it’s apple picking. Not only is the scenic route to Fennville better with country music blasting, it’s also exciting when the people you travel with have never seen a land dedicated to these glorious fruits. Plus, more people equals more carriers.

Wear your best walking shoes
My dad always says, “if you’re gonna do it, do it right.” I’ve found that this applies to many aspects of my life, including apple picking. If I’m going to drive out to Fennville, I’m going to get the best darn apples I can find. This can mean stepping over fallen apples, squeezing through the branches of trees and even going to the end of the rows where no picker has gone before. All extreme measures should be taken when you commit a full hour of your day to picking, so proper walking shoes are a must.

Plan out which kinds of apples you want to pick

There is a magnificent website for these kinds of things. Crane’s happens to have a whole guide on what apples they have and what kinds they will have. Craneorchards.com can be a quick and easy guide to what you want to pick, whether you’re going with intentions of doing some extensive pie baking or simply for fun. Once you get there, it’s really a maze, so plan ahead.

“Twist and Snap”
My first trip to Crane’s was in kindergarten. We each were given a shirt with our names on it (in case we wandered off) and a partner to pick apples with. The workers taught us several times how to properly pick apples because there are so many people who do it wrong. YOU MUST TWIST AND SNAP. Trying to pick an apple any different way can potentially damage the tree. We love our apple trees, so why don’t we all just follow the rules, okay?

The forbidden trees are best for pictures (and maybe picking)
Although I would never condone breaking rules, I highly recommend adventuring. My friends and I happened to stumble upon some gorgeous trees that I had never seen before. Due to the surplus of people and lack of employees to watch pickers, we accidentally found ourselves walking among the commercial trees, where none shall pick and live to tell the tale. They were gorgeous, to say the least. I highly recommend at least looking at these trees and seeing what apple trees can be like when undisturbed by masses of people.

Fill the bag. Just do it
Apples are 95 cents a pound at Crane’s. For a pound of ripe, delicious apples, that is money well spent. As college students, we already lack the time and money to do grocery shopping, so it’s easy to use apples as a quick snack or even a main ingredient in our desserts and meals. If you find that you have too many, a roommate or even housemate would be more than happy to take some of the apples off your hands. Apples bring people together in all sorts of ways. I have already incorporated my apples into a new salad, and I look forward to my friend’s baking of apple crisps. The real question is, now that you have every reason to go apple picking, what will you do with yours?

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