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Pesticide free apple-picking near Montreal

I am hoping to go apple picking this weekend within about 60 minute's drive of Montreal. The catch is that I am pregnant and would prefer not to traipse around a pesticide-sprayed orchard (or eat sprayed apples!). I don't need it to be certified organic, just low spray, or moving towards organic. My internet searching hasn't revealed too much. Any suggestions?

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  1. I saw verger Gaston in Mt St-Hilaire, but no picking available (groups only). Otherwise, perhaps here, in Franklin:
    They were featured in Daniel Pinard's show a few years ago.

    1. For the last few years, I've gone to Les Vergers Écologiques Philion, just west of Hemmingford. They're more "lutte raisonnée" than strictly organic. Good selection of varieties, including some not often found in local orchards (Northern Spy, Wealthy, Fameuse, Royal Gala, Honey Crisp, Yellow Delicious, etc.), though it's a little early in the season for some of them. The owners are friendly and helpful, picnic tables are provided, restrooms are clean and it's possible to take a pleasant walk through field and wood. www.vergersphilion.com

      1 Reply
      1. re: carswell

        Went to Philion yesterday. While the weather couldn't have been better, the apples were disappointing: mostly small, not bursting with flavour, often blemished. I suspect the summer's odd weather is largely to blame. We got a few tail-end Honey Crisps and Galas, some very nice Empires and, after much searching, some textbook Cortlands (we'd given one young planting of Cortlands a pass but found a few rows of mature trees with good fruit, lending credence to the weather hypothesis). The Spartans and Red Delicious were nothing special; the Yellow Delicious seemed underripe, much more like the bland supermarket YDs than usual; the Northern Spies looked good but need another week or two. Fans of Macs said they were good.

      2. Congrats, picklebird!

        1. For the past few years, we've been going to the Maniadakis Organic Orchard in Franklin Centre and have been really happy with the quality. Each year we regret not taking home more.

          2 Replies
          1. re: FoodNovice

            Do you remeber how much they charge per pound? I just went to Philion and they charge $0.50 to $1.00 a pound depending on the kind. Not that I'm cheap- just curious!

            1. re: Arktik

              I went to the Maniadakis organic orchard in Franklin Centre today and it was lovely. Got five types: Spartan, Cortland, Gala, McIntosh, and a yellow variety called Smoothie that will be sweeter in a few weeks. All the apples are $1.70 per pound. There are little trees where they're growing other varieties (like Honeycrisp) that will be ready in future years.

              The owners were friendly and helpful, and the place was quiet and peaceful - unlike the crazy-busy place I've been going for the last few years.

              They are in the midst of building a juicing plant and hope to have it ready for later this fall. They will make unpasteurized apple juice that uses a new process (I think he said it was some kind of light treatment).

              There is a wooden "castle"-type structure for kids to play on and a windmill that they use to blow warmer air on the trees to avert frost damage in spring and late fall.

              I can't wait to get baking. :-)

          2. Thanks for the recs! We will go to out to Maniadikis Orchard. Stuff came up to make it too hard to get out of the city today, but it looks like the first weeks of October will be ideal.

            And thanks, kpzoo, for the congrats!

            1 Reply
            1. re: picklebird

              Did you end up going? Did you enjoy it? Please let me know. We are going tomorrow.

            2. A bit off topic, but when is the best time to go apple picking?

              7 Replies
              1. re: passthatversace

                The websites posted above often have a calendar that tells you which varieties should be available which weeks throughout the fall. It depends on your taste, but when I was looking through them, it seemed like the best times were from the last week of September through the middle of October, but there's a lot available already.

                1. re: picklebird

                  Thanks, but I don't really know my apple varieties hehe. I prefer my apples to be sweet and juicy, as opposed to a bit sour like the green ones (I think they're called granny smith??). Any suggestions? Thanks, it'd be much appreciated! :)

                    1. re: passthatversace

                      Honeycrisp apples are the BOMB!! Hard to find here, (I'm originally from N.S.) although I did manage to get some from Quinn Farms last year.(they ship most of theirs out of Province)

                      1. re: Astrea62

                        There are several vendors at the Jean-Talon Market that had Honeycrisp apples this weekend. They were lovely. They will likely still have them for a little while.

                        1. re: moh

                          I bought some Honeycrisp apples at Marché Duluth yesterday .. delicious!

                  1. I am looking to go next weekend with my son and niece and was also looking for a place for great apples and a beautiful setting. I will try out Maniadakis. Does anyone have another suggestions which may be nice to take kids to. I realize I am late in the season but I still want some great tasting apples for baking and eating

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: mtlmaven

                      Another suggest for an organic place specifically, or any place to pick apples?

                      1. re: kpzoo

                        In fact, organic would be fantastic but any great place would be welcome. I'm just looking for a place to take the kids and have a good time.

                        1. re: mtlmaven

                          I like picking apples at Mont St-Bruno and you can always hike around and have a picnic too. It's just so close by:

                          We went here quite often with my sons' daycare, fun for kids as there is a mini-farm, tractor ride and a play structure made of hay, plus they sell cider. Can be super crowded though:

                          We've also had fun pumpkin picking here:

                          Sure isn't like blueberry picking though as one or two pumpkins are usually enough. They have a tractor ride through the fields and sometimes a bit of theatre for the kids.

                          1. re: Plateaumaman

                            We went to Parc Mont St-Bruno's orchard today .. lots of Mcintosh left, no other kinds. They are big and delicious though and we like climbing all the ladders they have resting on all the trees. Uh, supposed to be ecological, probably not organic.

                            1. re: Plateaumaman

                              I just wanted to let you know that I ended up going to Vergers Lacroix with my son this weekend and had a great time. They had three varieties left for picking (Spartan, McIntosh and Cortland) with a few more on sale in the front store (notably some Honey Crisps). They were all delicious (which was of some concern considering how cold the weather had been in the past few days).

                              We also picked up some apple cider and an apple pie. I would definitely go back. Thanks for the recommendation.

                              1. re: mtlmaven

                                For any Honey Crisp fanatic who missed the small Quebec harvest, PA has terrific American ones at 1.50 a pound. Sweet,crisp and juicy. Enjoy!