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BEARING FRUIT IN APPLE ALLEY : Orchards dot the landscape in the Northern NY town of Peru

September 10, 2009
HEATHER SACKETT, News Staff Writer
     PERU, N.Y — Driving down the straight, narrow country roads in the town of Peru, the farmland seems to stretch on forever. Rows of corn along the roadway gradually give way to seemingly endless rows of small, twisted trees, their branches heavy with red and green fruit. This is northern New York apple country.

    Rulfs Orchard is just one of at least five apple orchards in the town of Peru. The family-owned farm supplies grocery stores from Watertown to Saratoga with apples, mostly of the McIntosh variety.

    “If you want that nice, crisp, tart apple, now’s the time,” said Linda Facteau, retail and produce manager at Rulfs Orchard.

    In 1952, Bob Rulfs purchased a small farm that came with 12 acres of apple trees. What began as selling apples out of a wagon on the front lawn of his house has turned into a large-scale apple-producing operation. Rulfs is not only famous for their apples, but for the apple pies, apple cider, apple bread, and apple jellies, jams and preserves that are made on site.

    Recent sunny days and cold nights have quickly ripened the apples, bringing out their red color, Facteau explained. Although McIntosh apples are a fall favorite and the quintessential North Country apple, other varieties have been gaining in popularity over the past few years.

    “Honeycrisp and Gala,” Facteau said, “everybody wants them.”

    Just behind Rulfs’ roadside stand, there are now 55 acres of apple trees. A team of 12 Jamaican workers hand-pick the apples with a twist of the wrist and deposit them into front-loaded pack baskets that are strapped to their shoulders. When full, they can weigh up to 40 lbs. These baskets are dumped into large wooden crates, which are picked up with farm equipment and brought back to the packing house. Here they are sorted into smaller bags to be sold at the farmstand and local grocery stores.

    Now is prime apple picking time for Rulfs. When the fruit is ripe, it begins to fall off the trees, so picking it now is important. The Mac season will be over by the middle of October, Facteau said.

    Visitors can also wander the many rows of trees to pick their own apples.

    “It’s the most fun thing about fall in the North Country,” Facteau said. “What fun to go into an orchard. Sometimes the simple things in life make it so wonderful.”

    For more information about  Rulfs Orchard, visit


Article Photos

A crate full of apples fresh from the tree. Below, the side of this barn at Northern Orchard on Union Road in Peru proudly displays what this farm is all about — apples.

Fact Box

Peru apple orchards

Rulfs Orchard
531 Bear Swamp Road, 643-8636
Open year-round; daily 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Apples: Lodi, Quinte, Vista Bella, Jersey Mac, Paula Red, McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Cortland, Macoun, Empire, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Spartan, Northern Spy, Mutsu

Applejacks’ Orchard and Country Gift Shop
751 Brand Hollow Road

Maplegrand Farms
139 Jarvis Rd

¯Northern Orchard Company Inc.
537 Union Rd

Forrence Orchards Inc.
2731 Route 22

Crown Point orchards
Gunnison Lakeshore Orchard Inc.
Crown Point

Ledge Top Orchard
Box 249 Lake Rd
Crown Point



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