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Hop on the wagon

At Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont, you can pick orchard fresh apples in an enormous array of varieties including, but not limited to, MacIntosh, Empire, Cortland, Red Delicious and Fuji. You can visit the state-of-the-art cider house and the popular Yellow Rock CafE, and shop for vegetables ranging from arugula, Japanese turnips and baby spinach.

Tim and Colleen Stanton have owned Stanton's Feura Farm in Feura Bush for 11 years. They devote nearly 400 acres to production of hay and other field crops, small fruits, vegetables, and greenhouse plants. This time of year, you can find pumpkins and apples galore.

Most people head to Fo' Castle Farms in Burnt Hills hungry, and not just for fruits and veggies. The country cafE offers clam chowder, quiche and pie known around the area as the closest thing to homemade.

"You can have breakfast or lunch in a brick room by a fireplace, or in nice weather out on the sun porch," said cafE manager Colleen Goodman.

Orchard owner Alan Colyer said the convenience of his apple grove brings lots of young families.

"It's easy in, easy out," said Colyer. "You can park right on site and pick your apples fast."

At Bowman Orchards on Sugar Hill Road in Rexford, there are more than 46 varieties of apples grown on 98 acres of land, as well as strawberries, pears, peaches, pumpkins and blackberries. There are also several varieties of the lesser-known fall fruit, raspberries.

The family added a crop of raspberries late in the summer, so both red and golden berries will be available after a hard frost, right through Thanksgiving. Varieties include Polana, Caroline, Heritage, Autumn Britten, and Encore.

The Bowman Orchards country store lures customers clamoring for home-baked pies, apple cider and cider donuts, pastries, homemade ice cream and more than 12 flavors of fudge.

If you're headed to Bowman Orchards North in Malta, you can buy pre-picked apples, but inclement summer weather took a bite out of the apple crop.

"We had 25 minutes of hail in July, and all my apples are ruined," said owner David Bowman. "The apples are out there on the trees, but they're all marked up. I'm going to ship them all out for cider. What can you do all depends on Mother Nature.""

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