How about them apples

Lindsay Wargo

Jim Campfield picks the finest apples to be packaged and sold at Beckwith Orchards. Campfield has worked at the farm for the past six years in the picking and sorting department.

Credit: Ben Breier

When I walk into Beckwith Orchards, Cider Mill and Gift Shop, I get this feeling like I am coming home. Maybe it is partially because I grew up in Kent and remember taking trips to the family-owned orchard as a child.

Back then, I would wait for a worker to peel an apple in front of me and place it in a plastic bag. I would savor every bite of the crisp, juicy fruit. My mom would buy apple cider, which we would take home, heat up and stir with cinnamon sticks.

Although these memories are partly responsible for the nostalgic feeling that washes over me when I step onto the 111 acres that is Beckwith’s, I think the environment is the key ingredient.

The staff welcomes you as if you are family, and the sights, sounds and smells may be the most pleasant you’ll find in Kent.

The orchard, located at 1617 Lake Rockwell Road (off of Lake Street), also offers a unique, stress-free place students can escape to.

Owner Charlie Beckwith, 79, said students should come to his orchard on a nice day, bring a blanket and a book and relax under a fruit tree.

Beckwith is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, so even those students with the busiest schedules may be able to fit it into their schedules.

Employee Sarah Koby, junior German and English major, said in addition to the stress-free environment, students can try different apples before they decide which of the 25 varieties they want to purchase.

Beckwith said no one should go home without a taste test.

“Let your teeth and tongue make the decision,” he said.

This fall, I have already tried the Elstar, Melrose, Gala, Honeycrisp and Ginger Gold varieties. All of them are delicious, but surprisingly, my suggestion at the orchard is the peaches.

They are so much juicier than any peach I have purchased at the grocery store. My favorite is the Belle of Georgia peach, but I wouldn’t turn down any variety if it came from Beckwith.

If you are homesick for mom’s baking, visit the orchard on the weekend and gaze adoringly at the stacks of homemade pies in the gift shop. You won’t be able to pass them by.

In addition to food, Beckwith offers specialty products, such as a soap called “Hog Wash,” in the gift shop. The orchard also has a corn maze open to the public for $1.

If you decide to take a trip to Beckwith this fall, I promise your taste buds won’t be disappointed. But don’t go if you are in a rush – a sign hangs in the shop that reads, “Beckwith Orchards customers are forbidden to hurry.”

Contact managing editor Lindsay Wargo at [email protected].