Each autumn, the tree branches at Ricker Hill Orchards begin to bow under the weight of a new generation of McIntosh apples, as they have for more than 200 years. Since 1803, the same family has cultivated the orchards, which today nurture several varieties of apples, pears, and peaches. Along with produce aisles along the East Coast, the fruit fills the baskets at Wallingford’s Fruit House, where shoppers just may save them from another fate: the bakery. There, raspberries, peaches, and blueberries tuck into pies or turnovers and hand-rolled crusts envelop apples to become fresh dumplings. The store also bakes fruitless sweets such as donuts and cookies and bottles fresh cider for pouring over a coach’s head after he wards off all the crows from the field.
In the fall, visitors can explore the orchards and pick apples themselves, hunting down such varieties as Cortland and Red Delicious. Wallingford's Fruit House’s backyard lets youngsters lose themselves in a variety of ways, from the corn maze to the petting-zoo animals’ thought-provoking lectures about delicious grass.