Top U Pick Spots in Southwest Illinois
As warm hues of gold, orange, and red blanket the Midwest landscape, quietly ushering in the Autumn season over rolling hills, valleys, and harvest fields of our region, another variety of colors burst among the tree leaves and vines at the many local orchards and roadside stands.
Fall-fresh produce stands ripe and ready for the picking, eager for visitors to harvest and enjoy. All the tasty fruits of the season await, sure to make the shorter days and crisper air even sweeter.
Broom Orchard in Carlinville
At Broom Orchard in Carlinville, owners Jeff and Lisa Broom have over two dozen varieties of apples for visitors to enjoy. They also grow peaches, blackberries, nectarines, plums, pears, and that other seasonal favorite – pumpkins!
“We offer our apples as pick-your-own, or you can buy them already bagged up from our farm market,” says Lisa. “Pick-your-own is also available during pumpkin season; visitors can pick their own pumpkins and gourds. We provide a family-friendly atmosphere, giving visitors a chance to feel what it’s like being out on the farm.”
Located at 12803 Broom Road, Carlinville, just two miles from Beaver Dam State Park, the orchard is open seven days a week during the season. Opening in mid-July, their Fall offerings kick off at Labor Day, as a bountiful harvest of apples is bursting from the trees.
Visitors of all ages can enjoy everything Broom Orchard has to offer for no cost other than that of the products purchased. “We sell fruit, the fun is free,” Jeff notes. “We invite you to walk, picnic, enjoy the grounds, take in the beauty of it all, anytime we’re open.”
Broom Orchard also serves as a seasonal host of an abundant sunflower field, adding to its many photo opportunities (photographers welcome!).
The annual Apple Festival takes place on the weekend of Sept. 25-26, with the annual Pumpkin Festival Oct. 9-10. Both festivals host free family-friendly activities including pony and wagon rides, cookouts, pick-your-own events, and even more.
A corn maze is also part of the Apple Festival, along with a variety of crafters, a petting zoo, and the opportunity to watch a fresh apple cider brew. With the Pumpkin Festival, visitors can enjoy some of those same experiences, but with a more pumpkin-spiced flair.
Carlinville’s Broom Orchard was established in 1920; the Broom family acquired it in 1968. This is Jeff and Lisa Bloom’s 53rd year; they are the third generation of Broom growers. The 128-acre orchard is closed in November and December, but its honey, popcorn, preserves, and spreads are available for purchase nearby at Hawthorn Tree in Carlinville throughout the winter.
Liberty Apple Orchard in Edwardsville
Liberty Apple Orchard is located just east of Edwardsville. Celebrating its ninth season when it opens in late August, it features 15 varieties of apples available between August and November, including “GoldRush,” the official Illinois State Fruit. Liberty Apple Orchard also hosts an orchard farm market on-site, filled with products from the orchard as well as from local farmers.
Owners Steve and Lugene Miller had a desire to remain active, contributing community members after retirement; that’s how Liberty Apple Orchard got its start. “It’s always been a favorite family pastime to go with our four girls and pick apples, and when we lived in upstate New York, it was essentially a given,” Steve says. “We want to provide our community here now with a place where the kids can run and families can enjoy being outdoors,” Lugene adds.
Now in its first full year of operation, Lugene says that the orchard’s farm market includes “pre-picked apples, cider from local orchards, apple cider donuts on Saturday mornings, apple butter and apple sauce made from our apples, local honey from hives on the orchard, caramel apples, children’s books on how apples grow, mother and child homemade apple-print aprons, and apple crisp and apple cake mixes.”
Uniquely hosted at Liberty Apple Orchard is a one-room schoolhouse replica, providing ample opportunity for teaching and learning with its unique design and décor. There are historic maps on the wall featuring local family history, with quotes related to the word “liberty” lining the ceiling and spilling onto the walls as well, further defining the Millers’ vision for Liberty Apple Orchard, located at 8308 Kuhn Station Road.
“Families can discover names of their ancestors on the walls,” Steve notes. “Visitors can envision what it was like for their forefathers living here, in Pin Oak Township, as well as nearby and beyond.” Other notable sites are featured on the maps, including orchards from the past. As to why this is an important piece of what all Liberty Apple Orchard has to offer those who come to experience its newer yet historical offerings, Lugene points out, “It’s simple. We want to be at the center of our community, helping to share its story.”
Liberty Apple Orchard's produce is also available seasonally at Dierberg’s in Edwardsville, and on Saturday mornings at the Land of Goshen Farmers’ Market in Edwardsville. And although the orchard closes for the season just before the Thanksgiving holiday, you can still make a special purchase of their apple butter and applesauce at the Edwardsville Holiday Market held on the first Saturday in December.
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May 28th, 2022