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The Scent of Apples is Back

by Ann McDermott

Do you can your own fruit? Need something to occupy the kids or grandkids? Want a new family, church or neighborhood outing? Need to get back in touch with nature? Want to experience a working ranch? Want something different to do on a weekend? Visit Date Creek Ranch this September.

This year’s gracious weather provided a bountiful apple crop and the pickings are great for those adventurous enough to venture north to the shady orchards of historic Date Creek Ranch. Picking tools, wheelbarrows and boxes are provided. The fruit is raised without pesticides. Tree ripened fruit is always best, so pickers are encouraged to sample as they select fruit to take home.

Date Creek Ranch is a 120 year old cattle ranch owned by the Knight family. They have received a number of environmental and conservation awards over the years for their improvements to the health and well-being of the land, including the reintroduction of beaver to Date Creek and wild turkey to the riparian habitat supported by the creek. The beef raised on the ranch is grass-fed. Healthier for the cattle, healthier for you. Orders can be placed while you visit to pick fruit, over the website, or by phone.

The Knights will open the orchards for the U-pick on the first weekend in September. Saturday and Sunday hours are from 7 AM to 3 PM. Keep in mind, the earlier you start, the cooler you’ll be. The season remains open until the apples are gone.

The Knights help sponsor Prescott College’s CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) and students from that program harvest for their co-op. You may come across them amongst the trees. The students also harvest a portion of the crop on behalf of the Arizona Pioneer’s Home, a home for Prescott’s elderly citizens. Date Creek donates that fruit to the home.

In addition, there is a wonderful Apple Festival the second weekend of September, sponsored by the Rainbow Girls of Wickenburg. Their service organization for girls ages 11 to 20 picks fruit, bakes it into pies, cakes and butters, and sells it to Date Creek Ranch’s visitors as their main fund raiser of the year. Plan to attend that sale for great apple treats, cute arts and crafts, and a Rainbow Girls cookbook to add to your collection of recipes.

Admission is free. You can hike the cottonwood-lined creek bed, looking for those wild turkeys I mentioned, eat your picnic lunch at a mesquite-shaded table, feed and get acquainted with livestock, pick delicious apples for $1/pound. You must admit, this is NOT the way you usually spend the weekend, so why not give it a try?

Date Creek Ranch is 22 miles north of Wickenburg on Hwy. 93. Turn right between milepost 178 and 177 on Date Creek Ranch Road. The turn is marked with a large sign advertising the ranch. Four more miles on a maintained dirt road bring you right to the orchards. Before you leave home, call the hotline at 928-231-0704 to be sure the fruit is ready and still available. Or check the website at www.datecreekranch.com

My family has made this trip every season for a decade now. Make it one of your own family traditions.



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