How to safely pick apples this fall

Apple orchards around Montreal are making modifications due to the pandemic so families can continue to enjoy this time-honoured tradition

There is something about the crisp autumn air that beckons a visit to an orchard. Apple picking is, and has seemingly always been, a quintessential fall activity – right up there with raking up leaves and jumping into the pile, a total must.

This year, taking part in outdoor activities is even more important as families have spent so much time confined to their homes, with limited social interactions. Thankfully, with plenty of local u-pick orchards nearby, families don’t have to go too far to enjoy the country air and some crisp, juicy apples this fall.

SOUTH OF MONTREAL

Vergers et Cidrerie Denis Charbonneau
575 Rang de la Montagne, Mont St. Grégoire.
450-347-9184
Approximately a 45-minute drive from Montreal.
Open from July 24 to Oct. 8. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

This place doubles as an apple orchard and sugar shack. There are several playgrounds for kids, a mini farm as well as motorized and horse-drawn carriage rides. Families with older kids might find this orchard appealing as next to the sugar shack area is an Arbraska forest adventure park (for age 5 and up).

Due to the pandemic, the restaurant is closed but the store will remain open with a maximum number of 10 people allowed in at any given time. The playground, mini farm and carriage rides will all be accessible.  vergersdc.qc.ca

Potager Mont-Rouge Halte Gourmande 
154 Rang de la Montagne, Rougemont
450-947-6663
Approximately a 45-minute drive from Montreal.
Open early August to end of October. From 8 a.m to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

A tractor ride will take you to the apple orchard at Potager Mont-Rouge Halte Gourmande, where you’ll also be able to see animals in a mini-farm, jump on a giant trampoline and walk through a corn maze. Masks will be mandatory on the tractor rides and in the shop. There will be a limit to the number of people who can enter the shop and there will be hand-washing stations throughout the orchard.  pmrhaltegourmande.ca

WEST OF MONTREAL

Quinn Farm
2495 Perrot Blvd. S., Notre Dame de l’Île-Perrot.
514-453-1510
Approximately a 40-minute drive from Montreal.
Open from end of August to mid-October for apple picking. From 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. (everyday, except closed on Tuesdays.).

La Ferme Quinn has a barn full of animals to visit, a small maze made out of cedar hedges and wraps from Cunningham’s Pub for lunch.

Due to the pandemic, families must make a reservation online before they go to the farm. The animal barn and parts of the play area are open. Masks are mandatory in the store and on wagon and tractor rides for everyone over the age of 12. A two-metre distance has to be maintained and hand washing when coming in and leaving the site is mandatory. Visitors are asked not to eat the fruit they pick on site. Unnecessary touching of objects, such as equipment on the farm or products in the store, is discouraged. Also, only one person per family will be allowed in the store at any given time.  quinnfarm.qc.ca

Le Verger Labonté
2291 Perrot Blvd., Notre Dame de l’Île Perrot.
514-453-5379
Approximately a one-hour drive from Montreal.
Open from Aug. 6 to mid-September. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m during the week and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

This orchard has a playground area, mini-farm, and corn mazes set up for kids of different age groups (some are short, others take a long time). You must arrive by 3 p.m. to use the corn maze. Families can bring their own picnic.

Due to the pandemic, the number of people allowed on site has been reduced and families must reserve online in advance. In the event of rain, animation and tractor rides may be cancelled.  vergerlabonte.com

Vergers Écologiques Philion
389 Route 202, Hemmingford.
450-247-3133
Approximately an hour drive from Montreal.
Open Aug. 22 to mid-October. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

A little outside Hemmingford, Philion Ecological Orchards boasts a variety of apples. There are also picnic tables located throughout the orchard for families who want to pack their own lunch.

Due to the pandemic, tractor rides and the guided tours have been cancelled and masks will be mandatory at the orchard at all times.  vergersphilion.com

NORTH OF MONTREAL

La Magie de la Pomme
925 Fresnière, St. Eustache.
450-623-0062
Approximately a one-hour drive from Montreal.
Open Sept. 5 through October. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week (closed on some Mondays, check website before going.)

This orchard on Ferme Dubeault & Fils offers apple picking as well as more than 100 varieties of pumpkin and squash. Due to the pandemic, families should reserve online in advance (this comes with one parking pass).  The store is open, however, families also have the option to purchase products online and pick them up at the orchard.  lamagiedelapomme.com

Jude Pomme
223 rang Sainte-Sophie, Oka
450-479-6080
Approximately a one-hour drive from Montreal.
Open from mid-August to end of October.
From 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

The orchard’s name is a play on the owner’s name and the French word for apple juice, jus de pomme, which hints at the light-hearted atmosphere you’ll find at Jude Pomme. Families can pick from more than 30 varieties of apples, as well as collect pears and plums, or have a picnic.

Due to the pandemic, there will be no product sampling. Tractor rides will be limited; they will take place only when there are not a large number of people on site. Guides will bring families to orchards after they’ve chosen which apples they want to pick. Visitors have to wear masks in the store and barn.  judepomme.com

Verger La tête dans les pommes
1673 Principal Rd., St. Joseph-du-Lac
450-491-7319
Approximately 45 minutes from Montreal.
Open from Sept. 8 to end of October. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

This orchard usually has numerous activities for kids including tractor rides, storytimes, face painting,  a mini-farm, a duck pond, and a picnic area.

This year, the picnic area and playground are open (with added sanitation areas) but there will not be any tractor rides, petting or feeding animals at the mini-farm or face painting.  No food consumption, including apples, will be allowed on site.  Visitors must wear a mask in the shop and keep a two-metre distance.

The store will be open, offering tastings and selling produce such as apple juice, chocolate, house specialty products and it will offer a limited casse-croûte menu.  latetedanslespommes.ca

EAST OF MONTREAL

Verger du Flanc Nord
835 Rouillard Rd., Mont St. Hilaire.
450-464-7432
Approximately 45-minutes from Montreal
Officially open from Sept. 5 until the end of October. From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Closed some days for special events – check website before going.

This orchard boasts a wide variety of apples, as well as a space for picnics and a play area. Kids can check out the animal farm, while adults will most likely enjoy the terrace and artisanal ciders.

This year, visitors are asked to wear a mask in the shop and to bring tablecloths for the picnic tables and hand sanitizer. The play area will be open but not sanitized. At the time of publishing, the owner hadn’t made a decision whether to go ahead with tractor rides or not.  vergerduflancnord.com