Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Touring Boston - What to Know About Apple Picking at Russell Orchards

Let me start by saying we love the Boston tradition of Pick Your Own Fruit.  We've loved picking apples each fall and we have loved getting to pick a few different kinds of berries this summer.

Over the weekend my husband and I decided that we really wanted to go apple picking this year and since I had a baby due in less than a month we decided that sooner would be better.  We got everything ready in the morning and packed into the car but when I pulled up the address to Tougas Orchard (my personal favorite) we found out they were closed for the day so we decided to try out Russell Orchard since we had seen flyers around campus for an outing the rest of the school was planning there.

What to Know About Apple Picking at Russell Orchards

The drive to Russell Orchard was beautiful and the parking lot didn't seem to busy as we pulled in,
Apple Picking in Russel Orchard
which was what we expected going on a weekday rather than a weekend.  As I mentioned I was less than a month away from my pregnancy due date so after a long car drive I really needed to use the bathroom.  Unfortunately my very first experience with Russell Orchard was with a row of very poorly maintained port-a-potties.  Ugh.  Being unbalanced and pregnant the last thing I wanted to do was squish my roundness into the stinky cesspit.  Toilet paper and urine was everywhere, there was no clean toilet paper to be found, the toilets were super full and looking at their little service dates marked on the inside of each port-a-potty it has been weeks since they had been serviced.  Using them myself and then taking my two year old to use them was absolutely revolting, and I'm sad to say it but that initial experience may have tainted the rest of my view of Russell Orchard.

Apple Picking in Russel Orchard
Anyway, moving on to the Orchard Summary.

1. Bathrooms
This place has been around over a 100 years (or so they claim) and they still only have a line of port a potties for bathrooms.  Gross.

2. Pricing
The price for the apples was quite low compared to some of other orchards.  You paid an admission fee $3/person and that would later be credited toward your fruit.  Apples were $1.75 a lb.

3. The Orchard
I felt like we really could have used a little more help and direction when it came to this part.  After we paid our fee and were given a bag to put our apples in we were simply sent on our way and told not to get on the tractor tailor because that was only for kids on field trips.  Great.  ... but we didn't know what to do or where to go, there were no maps and no further instructions given.  We ended up wandering down the long main road looking for any kind of signage that suggested apples ready for picking.

It was a fairly long walk and I wish we would have brought a stroller, since my toddler is pretty big and a pain to carry, but we didn't know how far away the apples would actually be.  However the trail was fairly rough so I don't know that a stroller that wasn't a jogger would have done much good.

standing by pumpkins in Russell Orchards
Eventually we found the apples and they had a bunch of different ones clustered together.  Each row being a different type of apples so you could get a good variety without additional walking. There were apples everywhere, mostly all over the ground, which was kind of sad, and I suspected it was because they didn't have any people there giving directions or telling you to be careful what you picked because anything you pick should go in your bag like many of the other orchards do.

Also we went the last week of September, and I don't know if it was the time of year or the location or something else all together, but the flies and mosquitoes were out in swarms. We all came home with multiple bug bites.

4. Other Fruit
I was pretty excited that this orchard also had raspberries that were still available to pick so after we got our fill of apples we again headed to the main desk to try to get some direction to where we could find the berries and again we were pointed in a vague direction back into the orchard.  Still poor signage and no maps.

Eating an apple donut at Russell Orchards
However when we did find the berries they were great.  Tasty, delicious, ripe, and they cost a fair amount less to pick than they do at the grocery store... which does not seem to be the case for most of my apple picking experiences.

5. Other Features
They have a few animals enclosed in a fence, mostly chickens and geese and a sign warning that they are not tame and to be careful around them.  There was no playground that I could see and only handful of benches.  The general store was nice and they had some really tasty ice cream there, but other than that there wasn't much that stood out to me.

Summary & Stars:


Two stars. Gross bathrooms killed this place for me, and having that added to a complete lack of direction and instruction left me pretty disappointed.  I feel like there are so many great orchards in New England that I would not waste my time returning to this one.

Have you been here before?  If so I'd love to know more about your experience and any tips or tricks you have in the comments section below. 


Russell Orchards
143 Argilla Rd.
Ipswich, MA  

Phone: 978-356-5366