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A Choose-Your-Own Adventure

Apples and pumpkins for in-city picking.

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With all of the fuss about local and seasonal eating, parents may find themselves wondering if apple-picking is possible within the five boroughs. A little foraging proves that it is, though “not in the conventional sense,” warns Jacquie Berger, executive director of Just Food, a sustainable-food nonprofit. Urban picking entails not poking about abundant orchards but ferreting out spots with a handful of trees and calling ahead to ask permission. Berger’s suggested venues include the John Browne High School in Flushing and Taqwa Community Farm in the Highbridge section of the Bronx, both of which can sometimes be coaxed into allowing a couple of young foragers onto the grounds. In Brooklyn, Lefferts Historic House also has a few trees. The Queens County Farm Museum’s apple festival, on October 7, has freshly pressed cider and the nation’s largest apple cobbler (baked on site), neither of which contains fruit from the museum’s 80 or so Newtown Pippin, Delicious, and Cortland specimens. “There’s so much spraying involved in any apple orchard with commercial sales. I don’t know of a place in the city that does that. We sell a small quantity of ours. They taste delicious, but they’re not market-appealing as far as their looks,” explains Amy Fischetti, the museum’s executive director, who adds, “I love the wormy apples. They have freshness.” If it’s a pumpkin you want, Staten Island’s Decker Farm, a twenty-acre plot continuously cultivated since 1812, opens its patch on October 6. “U-pick” is available, but the proprietors admit that most of the big orange orbs are trucked in. “We get 10,000 visitors—we couldn’t satisfy that,” says Jessica Roe, development officer of the Staten Island Historical Society. If this is all too much to wrap your head around, just find a friend with a tree and hoist Junior up. Asked about the safety of snacking on gorgeous fruit spotted in front of a Prospect Heights brownstone, Berger says, “I would eat them! I would eat them all day long!” Beats a trek upstate.

Apples: 10/7, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Apple Festival at Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy., Floral Park (718-347-3276 or queensfarm.org); free, with fees for some activities. Pumpkins: 10/6 to 10/8, and weekends through 10/28, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Decker Farm, shuttle service from Historic Richmond Town, 441 Clarke Ave., Staten Island (718-351-1611 or historicrichmondtown.org); $4, $14 for a family of four.


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