“Organic”, “locally grown”, “farm-to-table”, buzz words familiar to both city dwellers and suburbanites a like. People are flocking to their local farmers market to scoop up the freshest fruits and veggies. Restaurants and food trucks are touting the farm-to-table label using only the freshest ingredients while boosting the local farming community. The farm-to-table, locally grown movement has taken hold, and you can’t get any fresher than picking your own apples right off the trees.
Located 1.5 hours north of Atlanta in Blue Ridge, Georgia sits beautiful Mercier Orchards nestled in the North Georgia mountains. This is the largest apple orchard in the state of Georgia with over 50 varieties of apples grown on the farm. Mercier hosts U-Pick weekends from August to October where you can enjoy a day on the orchard picking wide varieties of apples and taste testing right off the trees, which is not only allowed but encouraged! For $10/bag you take a tractor ride out into the orchard, fill your bag(s) with fresh-picked apples, snack on the merchandise all while enjoying the outdoors with family and friends. For children, this experience is not only fun but educational as they learn that the apples and other foods they eat come from farms just like Mercier (not to mention a terrific childhood memory organically formed in the process).
Mercier’s U-Pick operation runs quite smoothly. Cars line up to get into the orchard but are quickly directed to a parking spot. Once parked, simply walk to the orchard store, buy your bag(s) and head out to the tractors waiting to transport passengers to pick apples. The tractors run continuously so you are not left standing in line for more than 5 minutes.
When your tractor departs, a volunteer details the history of Mercier along with the apples in season at the moment. Upon arrival in the orchard, another guide explains how to pick the apples off of the trees and where each variety can be found. The rows are also clearly marked with the various varieties. After the quick apple-picking tutorial, peruse the selections, snack on freshly picked apples and breathe in the crisp mountain air. Make sure to bring your camera as there are plenty of beautiful photo opportunities to be had.
When you are finished picking your apples and walking about the orchard, hop back on the next tractor to the parking lot. Before heading home, be sure to pop in the orchard store. Sample the wide selection of Mercier apple ciders from the Cider Bar, buy some tasty treats in the bake shop, or check out the jellies, jams, and salsas in the back. In one day you’ve picked fresh apples to use in your kitchen, spent very little money to create wonderful memories with your family, supported the local farming community and enjoyed a day in the mountains. Now that’s farm-to-table!
A great Fall family day trip just under 2 hours away from Atlanta and totally affordable. Simply take 75 N to 575 N and follow it until it becomes HWY 515. Follow all the way to Blue Ridge and make a left onto Hwy 5. Mercier Orchards is 1.5 miles up the road on your left. While you’re up there, take some time to check out historic downtown Blue Ridge with its quaint shops, rail depot, arts center and yummy cuisine such as Harvest on Main which features locally grown food.
Mercier Orchards 8660 Blue Ridge Drive Blue Ridge, GA 30513
U-Pick Saturdays & Sunday 10am – 4pm