Carve Out Good Times, Family Memories at Ellsworth Hill Orchard
Among the many things that Northwest Corner towns do well are fall farm activities bathed in vibrant foliage, bright blue skies, invigorating air and the always uplifting laughter of children delighting in all that seems new.
Just around the next bend in the road or beyond the next hill, trees compete for attention, blaring their sunlit colors at passers-by, vying to be called “the fairest of them all.”
Area farms embrace the fun, welcoming visitors and offering a variety of planned agricultural experiences. Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm in Sharon, Conn., is one of them. Ellsworth has specialized in organic, earth-embracing fall activities for many seasons, making it a repeat destination for generations of families.
This fall season will be no different. During an early September visit with owner/operator Mike Bozzi, he noted that a pause to chat was possible only because it happened to be a rainy day. Such rare days provide a bit of respite from the hard work of agriculture.
“I’m definitely excited about the upcoming fall season of activities at Ellsworth Farm,” Bozzi said. “It’s like being in heaven every day here.” He has owned the farm since 1999.
“It’s been an enjoyable 22 years,” he said. “I don’t have time to breathe when it’s happening,” he said of the fall schedule of activities. There is never even time to count the numbers of visitors; they just keep on coming.
PUMPKINS, APPLES, BERRIES AND AN AMAZING MAZE
What can those visitors, young and old, expect to see this year at Ellsworth Farm?
A favorite attraction for everyone is the corn maze, which takes on a different theme each year. The 2021 design? It’s baseball themed: The New York Yankees.
Asked for the secret of the maze should grown-ups find themselves hopelessly lost and seeking the way out, Bozzi said that the key is to stand still and look for the top of the building that is visible to taller people from throughout the maze, then just head for the building. The kids don’t need to know how you did it.
Apple-picking is traditional, bringing the fun of doing it yourself. Visitors will find 13 varieties to choose from, good for everything from pies to eating fresh off the tree. There are also pear trees bearing sun-ripened fruit, including Asian pears and New Century varieties. And there are Olympic Giant pears. Each pear can weigh as much as a pound.
And a fall favorite, the pumpkin patch, is ready for you to select your own right on the spot where it grew. Pumpkins can be found in all sizes, small and large, just how they grow. Bozzi noted that he doesn’t fertilize them to achieve the size. They are all-natural.
Fresh berries may be there when you visit, particularly a fall run of raspberries. “We might have them and other berries, too,” Bozzi said, depending on the timing. Hayrides, too, may be a feature of your visit, again depending upon conditions at the time.
Cider making is on-going, using a commercial press that dates back to the 1980s. The operation can be viewed through an observation window. Freshly pressed cider is a popular and welcome treat.
Farm festivities also include an antique Lionel toy train display that the children enjoy seeing in operation. It runs between 6 and 6:30 p.m. on weekends. Other runs can be arranged by appointment.
BEST TO CHECK WEBSITE BEFORE PLANNING TRIP
All true farming is dependent upon Mother Nature for all things, Bozzi noted. The timing of ripeness, readiness for picking, ground conditions within the corn maze are all affected by the weather. “You can’t predict it.”
Thankfully, though, constant updates on the Ellsworth Farm website are very helpful in planning that trip to the farm and finding out what is in season at any given time. For information, visit www.ellsworthfarm.com, or call (860) 364-0025l
Ellsworth Hill Orchard, located at 461 Cornwall Bridge Road (Rte. 4), is open six days a week, including holidays, but is closed on Tuesdays. The farm will remain open through the fall until the day before Thanksgiving Day. It will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.