Devil Fish

Apples and Autumn
by Emma Kelley -- October 24th, 2013

Fall has arrived in Durham!  The cool weather is here, leaves are changing, and I am once again developing an addiction to pumpkin-flavored everything.

This time of year heralds all the unique outdoor activities inherent to Autumn itself – enjoying (well, raking) multicolored leaves, Halloween, pumpkin carving, and apple picking.

One Sunday morning, a group of fellow MEM students and I filled up two cars and drove about an hour outside of Durham, to the small town of Ramseur, North Carolina.  We arrived at the Millstone Creek Orchards and were met by rows and rows of different kinds of fruit trees.  Millstone Creek is a family owned and operated orchard, offering pumpkin picking, hayrides, and many different fruit products sold in their Country Store.  I tried a delicious apple slushie and left with a carton of apple cider and a small bag of potpourri for home.

But apple picking was what we really came for.  We picked up a few baskets and headed down the dirt path to the U-pick zone.  Although only a few weeks into the season, many of the trees were almost picked clean.  We got creative though, and found many small, green apples.


Group photo

The group of us Nicholas School Students.
Photo credit: Xander Kent

Walking to the orchard in the sunshine.

Walking to the orchard in the sunshine.

The orchard.

The orchard. Photo credit: Xander Kent.

Me picking apples.

How I know I’m not in Boston anymore: It’s Fall and I’m wearing shorts and sandals. Photo credit: Alex Hunt


Something struck me as odd – these homegrown apples were so different from the ones I buy each week at the grocery store.  I came to the orchard expecting to pick large, red apples.  I was surprised to find that these apples were small, and each one had at least a few imperfections.  At first, I though this meant they were bad apples.  I passed over many trees before I figured out I was wrong.  Eventually we filled our baskets, but I was curious – why were these apples so different from the ones in my kitchen?


Our harvest.

Our harvest.


Organic apples, grown without the use of pesticides and other chemicals, look very different from the large red apples I grew up eating.  This blog post discusses the difference between two pink lady apples: one grown organically, and one grown conventionally (that is, with pesticides and other chemicals).  This Queenslander explains her experience comparing her organic, locally picked apples to those from the grocery store. The photo comparing each apple side by side speaks volumes.

Since this little investigation, I’ve been enjoying my delicious Millstone Orchard apples and exploring the options for locally grown food in Durham.  There are a variety of organic food delivery services, such as Durham Organics, in addition to the farmer’s market every Saturday.  After witnessing the differences between organic and conventional apples for myself, I’ll be checking out these new options for my produce shopping.

To conclude this entry, I challenge everyone to take their nose away from the grindstone for a moment, go outside, and enjoy the season….say, on a tire swing.

Tire swing fun.

Tire swing fun. Photo credit: Xander Kent

Xander on the tire swing.

Xander on the tire swing. Xander Kent

Me pushing.

Photo credit: Xander Kent

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