Photo By Bill Pearson

Pick your own a ritual at Johnston’s



Photo By Bill Pearson
Every autumn, Small World Nursery School educators Tammy Derr and Susan McEachern take their pre-kindergartners to pick apples and enjoy their freshly picked fruit at Johnston’s Apple Orchard in Ellsworth.

ELLSWORTH — For Valeda Schmucki, it’s been a fall tradition for nearly two decades. Come late September, the Otis summer resident picks about 30 pounds of apples at the Johnston’s Orchards. The fresh fruit go back with her to Holden, Mass.

“I live near apple country in Massachusetts, but I always come here to buy apples,” Schmucki said. “It’s become an annual tradition. The people are nice. It’s lovely weather. And it’s Maine!”

Schmucki is among many who love picking apples at the family-run orchard. Families and individuals of all ages flock to Branch Pond Road during a five-week period starting in mid-September and ending on Columbus Day. Nine varieties are available for picking.

The Johnston family began operating the “U-Pick” orchard in 2001. Brett Johnston got started raising apples 41 years ago. As an 18-year-old, he started out working for his grandfather, Ozzie Merrill, maintaining the 18 acres of apple trees which yield nearly 4,000 bushels per season.

Under Merrill’s leadership, the orchard sold apples already hand-picked. When Johnston took over, he changed the focus to letting customers pick their own.

Johnston’s Apple Orchard is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The orchard is located on the Branch Pond Road just off Route 1A in north Ellsworth. For more info, call 667-4028.

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Bill Pearson

Bill Pearson

Former Ellsworth American reporter worked at the Piscataquis Observer for 3.5 years before joining the American. The Corinna native served one term on the SAD 48 Board of Directors.