This is the sort of thing I had in mind when we moved to the country. The overflowing backyard veggie patch has always been in the picture (yet to be realised) but I wanted to be near places we could visit to pick our own food. There's something about an orchard that gets me all nostalgic. I spent a few years in my childhood living in a house in the middle of an apple orchard, and while the glasses have definitely taken on a rosy hue, I'm sure I'm not exaggerating when I say we spent our weekends running up and down the rows eating fruit straight from the tree.
Even though apples aren't uncommon in this area, and plenty of people seem to have a tree or two in their backyard, I hadn't been able to locate a proper pick-your-own farm.
Then a friend told me last week about a place not far from here that was once run as an organic farm, and is now a meditation retreat. It's set on a beautiful patch of land alongside an enormous, neglected orchard with rows of apple trees of all different varieties. The fruit is falling from the trees and rotting on the ground - the birds are having a field day.
So armed with our inside knowledge, my littlest pair and some dear friends put on our gumboots, grabbed some baskets and set out. We were warned about wombat holes and rabbit warrens, then invited to help ourselves. The kids ran wild while my friend and I sampled the wares, grabbing a handful of the sweetest, a selection of the crispest, as we came across them. Every tree held a different fruit, none of them labelled. The prettiest often seemed the most lacking in flavour. Ironically, after traipsing the length of several rows, I decided that my favourite had been the first one we'd tasted. Luckily we were able to find that tree again, and the basket was topped up.
Now I have to turn my attention to what to do with all that fruit. Apple pie, anyone?