The north slope of Covey Hill in Franklin Township, Quebec provides ideal soil and climatic conditions for growing apples. Generations of family farms here and to the east and west along the ridge, in Havelock, Hemmingford and Hinchinbrooke Townships, have produced fruit for the Montreal market and beyond. It's a tradition that dates back to 1834 when George Edwards began the first commercial orchard on Covey Hill.
     Picking begins as early as late July for Lodi, yellowish apples known as "les pommes blanches." Other summer varieties ripen in August including Vista Bella and Melba, soft apples that don't last long but offer a fleeting taste of the sweet season to come.
     In mid-September Quebecers' favorite apple varieties such as McIntosh and Cortland, begin coming off the trees and continue through late October.

     Franklin Centre is the hub of the apple country along the Canada-USA border. Cold storage facilities, large and small, provide markets for thousands of bushels of fruit. Leahy, a well-known applesauce label on grocery shelves across the country, is based here. Several cider presses and hard cider makers operate in the area. 
     Franklin is growing in popularity for its pick-your-own "U-Pick" orchards. More and more independent growers are using agricultural tourism to make family farming profitable. U-Pick orchards offer fun for all ages through a proven formula of home-cooked food and exercise in a natural setting. Playgrounds, petting zoos, hay rides and fresh-baked pies add to the pleasure of picking your own apples.

These scenes show several popular apple farms open to the public--Stevenson's, Blair's, H. E. Bye's and Cassidy's, all along Route 202 in Franklin--as well as farms higher up on Covey Hill along Brooks Road.
The newest hotspot on the orchards tour is the Maniadakis' organic orchard, "Les Hautes Terres", along Route 209 just south of the village of Franklin Centre. This farm has become a model of perfection in growing apples without synthetic chemicals.

Click here for the website of the Southwest Townships Apple Association

U-Pick orchards
Tourist attractions
The seasons
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All photos and text copyright by Phil Norton 2003. Permission required for reproduction.

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