The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Agriculture, in cooperation with the RI Fruit Growers Association, will host Rhode Island's annual apple harvest kick-off on Friday, September 6. The third annual Apple Harvest Day will focus attention on the state's apple industry and the fresh harvest at the time when many popular varieties of apples are ready for picking.
The event will take place at Phantom Farms at 2929 Diamond Hill Road in Cumberland. This year's Apple Harvest Day event will also celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the RI Fruit Growers Association and will include various exhibits and displays and a tour. The public is invited to attend the event.
DEM Director Janet Coit and Ken Ayars, chief of DEM's Division of Agriculture will join President Kerri Stenovitch and other representatives from the RI Fruit Growers Association and the URI Cooperative Extension to focus on the importance of providing fresh, local apple products to schools, restaurants, small markets and grocers in the state. Governor Chafee has proclaimed September 6th as Rhode Island Apple Harvest Day to bring attention to the history and value of our local apple industry.
The fruit growers report that a plentiful and delicious apple crop is available for the public to enjoy this year. There are many commercial orchards in Rhode Island, and the opportunity to pick-your-own is offered at nearly all of them. Apple varieties currently available for picking include Macintosh, Paula Reds, Gala, and Honey Crisps. More varieties will become available as the season progresses.
Apples have been an integral part of the state's agriculture since the 1600s. The first North American variety, Yellow Sweeting, was developed by William Blackstone in Cumberland. The Rhode Island Greening apple, which was developed in 1796 and originally from the Green End area of Newport, is the State Fruit and continues to be an important apple variety for both commercial and home use.
Rhode Island's Apple Harvest Day is an outgrowth of an event launched in Massachusetts four years ago by the New England Fruit Growers Association with support from the Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture. Rhode Island joins Massachusetts and Connecticut in hosting apple harvest day promotional events in their respective states.
DEM's Division of Agriculture publishes a free guide to Rhode Island apple orchards, including orchards where you can pick your own apples. The brochure lists addresses, hours of operation, as well as telephone numbers, and includes nutritional information and apple facts. It is available on DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov by clicking on "Agriculture in RI" on the left side of the homepage, or by calling DEM's Division of Agriculture at 222-2781.