Harvest at Arbor Day Farm is once again upon us, with the bounty of the vineyard and orchards now at the peak of freshness.
First up: Grapes. And lots of them. Arbor Day Farm’s team of harvesters took to the vineyards in mid-August to bring in more than 7,000 pounds of grapes — LaCrosse, Chambourcin, Edelweiss, and Vignoles — each bunch hand-cut from the vine. As you can imagine, this is slow, tedious work in the hot Nebraska sun… but the delicious end result — Arbor Day Farm wines — more than make up for the input of labor. We raise a glass to you, grape harvesters!
Then on to: Hazelnuts. Arbor Day Farm’s nine-acre hybrid hazelnut field just north of Lied Lodge is ready for harvesting each year in late August, and this year was no different. Again, a dedicated team of harvesters take a week or more to go bush-by-bush through the field, picking each involucre by hand. Significant pruning and thinning efforts in the previous growing season paid big dividends in the harvest this year, with 115 bags of high-quality nuts harvested — up from 50-60 bags last year. These nuts now begin their journey of husking, stratification, dormancy in the cooler, and eventually make their way into the hands of Arbor Day Foundation members nationwide.
And of course: Apples! Probably what Arbor Day Farm is best known for — in the fall season, anyway — is its apple harvest. Every year, thousands of visitors descend on the apple orchards at Arbor Day Farm to pick their own tree-ripened apples, including some heirloom varieties from our Preservation Orchard, dating as far back as the 1500s. Or… if they’d rather just enjoy the apples but not pick any themselves, the Apple House Market is ready with 5- and 10-pound bags or bushel boxes to take home. Some apples are also pressed into cider, or hand-dipped for caramel apples, but a vast majority are picked and purchased in bulk by our visitors. Nebraska City’s 48th annual Applejack Festival is coming up on Sept. 16-18, 2016 — but the apples and adventure last all season long at Arbor Day Farm. The 2016 apple harvest is slightly ahead of schedule and is expected to be wrapped up sooner this season, so visit early for the best selection and variety of apples.
We invite you to visit Arbor Day Farm this harvest season. Check out the online events calendar for a complete list of happenings all season long.