Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Touring Boston - What to Know About Apple Picking at Tougas Farm

I had a friend set up a toddler playgroup date to Tougas Farm, the one she claimed was her favorite place to go apple picking and I was excited to go experience another apple picking farm (see my post on Lookout Farm for the first experience).  I was extra excited because we didn't have a car at the time and she offered to drive us there, which was amazing.  It seems like a lot of Pick Your Own Apple farms are a good 45+ minutes away from the Cambridge/Boston area and you really can't get to them without a car.

What to Know About Apple Picking at Tougas Farm


This orchard is set up in two parts.  You drive there and park, across the street from the parking area is a barn where you go to purchase your pass or to pick fruit and on the same side as the parking lot there is the farm store, a huge playground, and farm animals.



Things to note about Tougas Farm:


Eating an apple at Tougas Farm
1.  How Pricing Works
Here you pay an initial admission price, I want to say it's around $7-10/person and you get a sticker and a receipt saying you've paid.  Then you are given a bag for your fruit and sent into to orchard behind the barn.  You pick the fruit you want, then you take it back to the payment barn and they weigh it.  You are charged by pound, but the initial entrance fee you paid goes toward your fruit.  So if you go with two people you'll pay $14 to get in, but that $14 gets you $14 worth of fruit.  If you pick more than $14 worth of fruit you just pay the extra per pound amount, if you pick less than you miss out on a few dollars worth of food.


2.  Travel
Their orchard seems fairly compact and it was easily walkable with a toddler without a stroller, but there is a little bit of walking involved.  There are thick patches of grass and wide walk ways between the trees so it would also be really easy to bring a stroller if you wanted or needed one.  Also different variety of apples have all be planted close to each other, so one row of apples will be Gala, the row next to it will be Cortland, the row next it will be something else, etc.  So it's easy to get a good variety without having to do a lot of traveling.  

Picking apples at Tougas Farm
3. Helper Assistance
Around each area of picking they have farm workers telling you the process.  These people are great and they'll explain to you and your kids how to pick fruit so you don't pull a whole bunch you don't mean to off the tree, how to find good, ripe fruit, and if you have questions about which apples taste which way these people are great for insights.  (also they have no qualms about you sampling the fruit as you go... thank goodness because I think my son ate his weight in apples while we picked.)

They had a smallish picking area, maybe 10 rows of apples open at a time (New rows open as all the apples from those rows get picked), but each row was a different kind, so I could pick some gala and some cortland and some ... uh, yellow ones all kind of at the same time.  It was also great for my toddler son because he could just run wild through the different rows exploring and finding other kids.

Petting zoo at Tougas Farm
4. Playground
The playground is by the general store.  It's big, and there are tires to climb on, an old tractor, a couple of big wooden play structures, swings, slides, things to climb on etc.  The playground is also surrounded by picnic tables if you bring snacks.

5. Farm Animals
This is for sure my sons favorite thing about this farm. They have lots of farm animals (goats, pigs, chickens, lamas, sheep) and for $1 you can buy a small bag of food pellets to feed the animals.  The animals were surprisingly soft and good about taking the food from small children and my son loved getting to poke the food through to them and getting soggy goat lip kisses on his hand.  Thankfully they also have a nice outdoor washing station right next to the animals so you can clean up as soon as you're done.

6. Bathrooms
With kids bathrooms are so important and not all the farms have great one.  These ones are big and attached the general store next to the playground and animal yard.

7. General Store
They have a general store and some of my most favorite apple donuts.  If you come to pick apples you really shouldn't leave without trying one of their apple donuts.

Summary:
This is my favorite farm that I've been to so far.  It's less expensive than Look Out Farm (though it has fewer activities) but it still has plenty for kids to do and it's a great day trip.   I'm fairly confident my son would be willing to brave the drive just to feed the animals.  The farm and picking is compact which makes it nice and easy to walk and they've really just made it a pretty experience with green grass between the fruit trees, a great play area, fun animals and nice bathrooms.

Rating:

★★★★★

Five stars, I thought this place was great.  It was perfect for a day outing with a toddler, I loved being able to walk around and play and not drag a stroller with me.  I thought the grass everywhere was a nice touch and we could not get enough of feeding the animals.


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. 

Tougas Farm

234 Ball Street
Northboro, MA

Phone: 508-393-6406
Website: http://www.tougasfarm.com/