2021’s Best Pick Your Own Farm in CT is Lyman Orchards

The results are in, and the readers of Connecticut Magazine have once again selected Lyman Orchards as the BEST PICK YOUR OWN FARM in Connecticut.  Thank you!  In a state with many wonderful farms to choose from, this is such an honor!       

The path to obtaining this award has been 280 YEARS in the making!  In fact, Lyman Orchards is the twelfth oldest family-owned company still in operation in the country!  The Lyman Orchards story begins in 1741, when John Lyman and his wife Hope purchased 37 acres of land in a southwest area of Middletown (currently Middlefield), now the site of the Homestead and the Apple Barrel Farm Market.  In the 1960’s Lyman Orchards invited everyone to be a “farmer for the day” and Pick Your Own (“PYO”) was born.  Now in 2021, 350 acres of the 1000-acre Lyman Orchards property is dedicated to PYO fields.  Lyman Orchards continues to welcome guests from June to October to take part in this tradition by picking your own fresh fruits - over 100 varieties to choose from!

Want a hear of little bit of living history?  Call the Pick Your Own Hotline at 860-349-6015 and you will most likely be treated to the voice of our modern-day John Lyman, eighth generation family member of the original John Lyman, providing an upbeat and informative listing of daily picking conditions, varieties, prices, and events.  Take a peek at what you can harvest for yourself:

STRAWBERRIES:  The PYO season always starts with a winner – strawberries!  Beginning in early June (sometimes late May if the conditions are right), visitors can fill their containers with these plump and vibrant gems.  Did you know that there are multiple varieties of strawberries for picking?  The varieties come in different sizes and different levels of sweetness – come try them all!     

No photo description available.

JOSTABERRIES:  The Jostaberry is a complex cross between black currants and gooseberries.  Never heard of them?  That’s probably because they are not well suited to mechanical harvesting, so their commercial production is limited.  Luck for you, they are here at Lyman Orchards waiting to be picked from early to mid-July.  Do what robots can’t and pick yourself some jostaberries.   

No photo description available.

BLUEBERRIES:  These nutritional powerhouses are yours for the picking from mid-July to early August.  Bonus:  Blueberry bushes are perfectly human-sized for picking without bending.  

A person holding a bunch of blueberries

Description automatically generated with low confidence

RASPBERRIES:  While familiar to most people, raspberries are still some of the weirdest fruits available at Lyman Orchards.  Technically they are not even berries because each individual raspberry is made of dozens of drupelets which together surround a core that remains on the bush when plucked, leaving you with the empty cup-shaped raspberry.  Come back in late June to late July to see these delicious tiny monsters for yourself. 

A person holding a box of raspberries

Description automatically generated with low confidence

APPLES:  In addition to the honor of being Connecticut Magazine’s Best Pick Your Own Farm in Connecticut, in September 2021, Reader’s Digest also named Lyman Orchards as the BEST PLACE TO GO APPLE PICKING IN CT.  This year’s apple crop is also one of our best yet – woohoo!  As if you could possibly need another reason, our apples are ECO-CERTIFIED meaning that environmentally disruptive practices (e.g. sprays) are minimized in favor of natural occurring controls (ladybugs and other predators).  It’s fair to say that Lyman Orchards knows apples!  And there are over 20 varieties of apples to pick from – all having a unique flavor profile.  While apples in general are available from mid-August to late October, each variety has its own little “mini season” so pay attention to what’s picking from the Pick Your Own Hotline (860-349-6015) and try them all!

A picture containing outdoor, grass, child, person

Description automatically generated

PEACHES / NECTARINES:  Lyman Orchards peaches are also ECO-CERTIFIED to preserve and protect the orchards’ ecology.  Available mid-July to late September, your sweet and juicy peach picking experience includes “cling-stone” varieties earlier in the season (when the flesh clings to the pit) and “free stone” varieties later in the season.     

A bowl of peaches

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

PEARS:    Homer didn’t call pears the “gift of the gods” for nothing.  Pears are absolutely delightful, and you can pick these shapely treats from late August to late September.  And don’t forget to pick some Asian pears too.  Apple-shaped Asian pears do make luxurious tasting gifts – yum!  

May be an image of fruit and nature

PUMPKINS:  The pumpkin spice craze would be nothing without the pumpkin.  Find your moment of Autumn greatness and dive into the Lyman Orchards pumpkin patch, filled with classic orange pumpkins, as well as trendy white pumpkins and jolly green pumpkins.  And don’t miss the warty goblin pumpkin that’s in a class of its own!     

No photo description available.

As exciting as picking your own fruits can be, Lyman Orchards is here to take your day’s fun up several more notches.  Offerings vary throughout the season.

The Lyman family is proud and determined to maintain and evolve the farm for future generations.  We will continue to work hard at deserving this Best Pick Your Own Farm in CT award and look forward to hosting you throughout the year on your PYO farming journey.    

And the BEST PIE award goes to…. Lyman Orchards!

For all that know and love Lyman Orchards, and for anyone that hasn’t had the opportunity to visit yet, you can still get a “taste” of the farm by picking up the BEST PIE.  Obviously, we think it’s the Best Pie, but it is so exciting to have our opinion confirmed by the fine residents of CT in Connecticut Magazine’s reader’s poll 2021. 

Everyone who’s been to Lyman Orchards has their own favorite reason for visiting.  For some, it’s the fruit picking:  from Strawberries to Apples and every fruit in between, PYO fruits is why these day-farmers and fruit-lovers leave home.  For others it’s the entertainment:  the sunflower maze, corn maze, apple cannons, restaurants, musicians, festivals, and more, there’s something fun for everyone at Lyman Orchards.  Still, others are drawn to Lyman Orchards for the 36 holes of championship golf and unbeatable leagues and instruction.  And for many, it’s the Best Pie made by Lyman Orchards. 

Lyman Orchards isn’t known as “Connecticut’s Sweet Spot” for nothing.  The Bakery at the Apple Barrel Farm Market pumps out a delightful assortment of pies, breads, muffins, pastries, and apple cider donuts, and the enticing aroma of fresh-baked products wafts through the air all day, every day.  And although all our bakery products are good-for-your-soul tasty, our pies have stood out as a symbol of Lyman Orchards, something people in states near and far have enjoyed for decades.       

You may have questions about this prestigious BEST PIE award, and we have some answers!

WHO chose Lyman Orchards Pie to be the Best Pie?  The readers of Connecticut Magazine, that’s who! Our appreciation goes out to these readers and voters, we are delighted to have this honor!

WHAT makes a pie “the Best Pie”?   If this question could be answered with a recipe or a pie chart, then everyone would be making the Best Pie.  We have a feeling that it might be the dash of nature, the smidge of nostalgia, and the pinch of love that is included in every Lyman Orchards pie that sets it apart from the rest.    

WHEN should I serve the Best Pie?  Your earliest option could be breakfast – our pies do contain fruit, after all.  A more common time would be for dessert, after lunch or dinner, of course.  But there’s no reason to stop there.  How about brunch or after school or as a bedtime snack?  And what about for book club, or after playing cards with friends, or on game day?  The Best Pie can be an awesome delight any time of any day, and even makes a great gift!      

WHERE can I get my hands on the Best Pie?  So many places!  The Best Pie is available in the Apple Barrel Farm Market at Lyman Orchards, fresh-cooked on-premises and ready to serve for dessert right after dinner.  You can even purchase the Best Pie frozen so that it can be stored in your freezer and then cooked in your own home oven for that fresh-baked taste at your convenience.  Not near the Apple Barrel Farm Market?  Luckily the Best Pie is also carried at your local Big Y and D’AG NYC grocery stores, for your convenience.  Lyman Orchards pies also make unique and successful fundraising items, so if you’re lucky, you may be approached to support a charitable organization with the purchase of the Best Pie – that’s a win-win!   

WHY should I purchase the Best Pie?  If you’re going to have pie, why settle for less than the best?    

WHICH Lyman Orchards pie is the Best Pie?  There’s only one person that can answer this one for you – and that’s YOU trying them all!  Here is a listing of our current offerings to get you started:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie:  Enjoy a taste of summer anytime with sweet juicy strawberries and tart red rhubarb.

Bumbleberry Pie: If you can’t choose between apples, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, then this pie is for you – it has them all!

Hi-Top Red, White & Blue Pie: You’ll love this patriotic blend of cherries, apples, and blueberries.

Cherry Pie: No need to cut down a cherry tree to enjoy this sweet and tart treat.

Apple Crumb Pie: If apple pie and apple crisp had a baby, it would be this pie. Take your pie-eating up a notch with cinnamon crumb topping.

Blueberry Pie: Hidden between two crusts is the perfect blend of wild and cultivated blueberries.

Hi-Top Apple Pie: From a generations-old recipe, this pie is loaded with two pounds of apples and is as American as apple pie.

We can’t wait to share the ultimate comfort food with you.  Thank you again for selecting Lyman Orchards as having the BEST PIE in CT!    

Apple Picking at a Pick Your own Apple Farm CT

How to Live “Appley” Ever After

Pick your own apples CT (PYO apples CT) is a delicious and charming fall tradition.  Lyman Orchards is very excited about our apple crop this year, and we invite you to spend the day with us to share in the bounty and make some enchanting apple-picking memories.  We know that even the pickiest pickers cannot take all day to fill a bag with apples, so Lyman Orchards has many on-site activities for you to stretch out the fun into an entire day – so many that you should probably come back several times! 

Without further delay, here are a few a-peel-ing steps to ensure a perfectly awesome-to-the-core day at the orchard:  

1) MAKE A PLAN:  Call the Pick Your Own Hotline at 860-349-6015 for the most up-to-date fruit availability, conditions, and pricing.  You know that certain apples are better for baking versus snacking, so with an understanding of the characteristics of the varieties that are available, you will make better picking decisions in the fields and have the right apples you want for home.  Read here for more info about the apple varieties at Lyman Orchards. 

2) CONNECT WITH NATURE: Apple picking is an extended nature break.  Take a moment to breathe in deeply and experience the great outdoors:  Feel the air on your face, smell the surroundings, hear the rustling leaves and the crunch of the grass below your feet, and touch the smooth apples.  Capture the experience with photos to relive for years to come.

3) GET PICKING:  Pick the apples that you have earmarked for snacking and/or baking, but also allow yourself to be lured in by other pretty apples that catch your eye – it’s a great way to find your future favorite variety.  If you don’t trust your apple identifying skills, then take a picture of the sign at the end of the row.  Another idea is to bring along some various colored tape or stickers to wrap each apple stem before placing it in your bag and keep a list of which colors correspond to which apple variety.   

4) PICK SOMETHING EXTRA:  Apples are the star of the day, but there’s an enormous variety of PYO fruits and vegetables at Lyman Orchards.  Think what you could do with a squash flower or Asian pear or gourd!  

5) ENJOY SOME AGRITAINMENT:   Apple cannons, Corn Maze, Lyman Golf, and more!

- APPLE CANNONS, you ask?  Yes!  Both young and old apple pickers are LOVING our two high-powered apple air cannons.  Angle the barrel and let your biodegradable apple ammo propel at 100mph across a field filled with aliens, Big Foot, and bullseye targets.  The cannons are very easy to operate but quite challenging to hit the targets.  Try it and you’ll be hooked!

- Stay put at Lyman Orchards to take part in another fall family favorite, the CORN MAZE.  This year’s theme is “Rock n Roll” and it is aMAZEing.  Fun musical facts are provided throughout your journey, trivia questions help you make informed decisions about which way to turn, and a portion of the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society and Connecticut Cancer Foundation.               

- LYMAN GOLF invites you to experience the beauty of autumn golfing.  No other apple orchard in Connecticut offers you 36 holes of championship golf (some holes pass right by the apple orchard!), 2 driving ranges, 2 pro shops, practice areas, a par-29 course, unbeatable instruction, and even apple tee markers. 

- But wait, there’s more!  Lyman Orchards is pleased to host a wide variety of extra fun events to entertain everyone.  Check out the EVENTS tab so you don’t miss a thing!   

6) EAT:  No apple picking trip would be complete without some soul-satisfying apple cider donuts, available at the Apple Barrel Farm Market.  We also recommend the 1741 Pub and Grill at the Lyman Clubhouse and the Deli at the Apple Barrel Farm Market for feeding your apple-picking crew.    

7) SHOP:  In case you haven’t heard, the Apple Barrel Farm Market carries the tastiest apple pies around!  You can also load up on local and gourmet specialty treats and grocery essentials before you hit the road.    

8) ENJOY YOUR HAUL:  Apples are so incredibly versatile.  You can eat them raw, add to both sweet and savory dishes, bake them, make apple sauce, turn them into cider, juice, or even chips.  Check here for some of our favorite apple recipes

Fall is a wonderful time of year, and we can’t wait to be part of your apple picking trip.  Make it a day to remember at Lyman Orchards and you, your family, and your friends will all live appley ever after.      

APPLE VARIETIES AT LYMAN ORCHARDS 2021

Pick Your Own Apples CT

Lyman Orchards, a pick your own CT farm, is expecting a bumper crop of apples this year and we couldn’t be more excited!  We encourage everyone to come and enjoy the bounty, especially mid-week when picking “traffic” is a bit lighter.  

When it comes to apples, one size (and one variety) does not fit all.  Each variety offers its own general characteristics, and apple tasting rivals wine tasting with respect to the complex combination of conditions that can vary their taste profiles.  Luckily Lyman Orchards offers an immense selection of PYO apples to satisfy every taste bud.  They’re like Pokemon – gotta pick ‘em all! 

Following is a list of what’s growing at Lyman Orchards (as of September).  Your best bet is to call the Pick Your Own Hotline at 860-349-6015 for the most up-to-date fruit availability, conditions, and pricing.

*Dates subject to change

GALA (~9/1 thru 9/25*): When Golden Delicious met Kidd’s Orange Red in 1930s New Zealand, the Gala apple was born. Gala has quickly become one of the most widely grown apple varieties in the world.

JONAMAC (~9/1 thru 10/11*): The offspring of Jonathon and McIntosh apples, this sweet/tart apple has been said to have cinnamon and nutmeg undertones – can you taste them?

MCINTOSH (~9/1 thru 10/11*): Also known as “Mac” and the national apple of Canada, McIntosh’s biggest claim to fame is being the muse of Apple Inc.’s Macintosh line of personal computers (intentionally misspelled to avoid conflict with an audio equipment company). Come taste the classic!

CORTLAND (~9/10 thru 10/11*): Due to the commercial success of McIntosh, some clever plant breeders in New York introduced McIntosh to the Ben Davis variety and created the Cortland, named after Cortland County, NY. Its white flesh is resistant to browning, making it a great choice for salads.

HONEYCRISP (~9/10 thru 10/11*, or while supplies last): We can thank the University of Minnesota for inventing this treat. So accurately named, Honeycrisp is honey-sweet and crisp and growing in popularity every year. Make sure you try one to see what all the fuss is about!

MACOUN (~9/15 thru 10/20*): Pronounced “ma-cown” after the variety’s namesake, Canadian horticulturalist W.T. Macoun. Interestingly, the patent application for Honeycrisp incorrectly declared Macoun to be the parent, but genetic testing proved Macoun was not the father. Oops!

LIBERTY (~9/15 thru 10/20*): Macoun is the father of this apple hybrid, which was cultivated for disease resistance and makes a fine pink applesauce.

FUJI (~9/20 thru 11/10*):  Looking for a super sweet, juicy, crispy apple?  Fuji has you covered.  Cultivated in Japan (named after Fujisaka) from American parents (Red Delicious and Ralls Janet), Fuji is easily in the top five of America’s most favorite apples.  

JONAGOLD (~9/25 thru 11/1*):  If you guessed this variety came from Jonathon and Golden Delicious, then you are correct!  Taste why this has become the most widely grown apple in Belgium. 

EMPIRE (~9/25 thru 11/1*):  With Red Delicious and McIntosh as parents, how can you go wrong?  This variety also boasts a bruise-resistant feature making it a perfect addition to school lunches. 

RED DELICIOUS (~9/25 thru 11/1*):  This pretty apple is often featured in holiday centerpieces. Try a freshly picked Red Delicious from Lyman Orchards and see what this super sweet variety has to offer on the inside. 

GOLDEN DELICIOUS (~9/25 thru 11/10*):  Related to the Red Delicious only by name, the Golden Delicious variety is sweet with a greenish-yellow-gold skin.  This is such a fantastic versatile apple, it was even featured on a U.S. postage stamp. 

IDA RED (~10/5 thru 11/10*):  Developed in Idaho, this variety claims Jonathon and Wagener as parents.  If you’ve ever fancied a baked apple, Ida Red is a great selection which should hold its shape during baking.

CRISPIN (~10/5 thru 11/10*):  Originally known as Mutsu, this Japanese creation is sweeter than its parent Golden Delicious and is aptly named with a juicy, refreshing crispy crunch.  Yum! 

CAMEO (~10/16 thru 11/10*):  From the great apple state of Washington comes this newer apple.  You may detect a hint of pear when biting through its relatively thin skin. 

ROME (~10/16 thru 11/10*):  The Rome Beauty variety originally from Ohio is a mildly tart cooking apple and up to the task of all your baking needs. 

BRAEBURN (~10/16 thru 11/10*):  First discovered in New Zealand, Braeburn apples are great for tarts as they tend to hold their shape and do not release a lot of liquid while cooking. 

GRANNY SMITH (~10/16 thru 11/10*):  One of America’s most popular apples has its roots in Australia when Maria Ann Smith (nicknamed “Granny” Smith) propagated the cultivar in 1868.  Tart, crispy, and great for baking!

PINK LADY (~10/23 thru 11/10*): Alternatively known as “Cripps Pink” this variety also hails from Australia after Golden Delicious and Lady Williams were combined in 1973.

EVERCRISP (~10/23 thru 11/10*): With superstar parents like Fuji and Honeycrisp, you know this has to be a winner. Evercrisp was developed in Ohio in 2008 and will surely capture your heart. Make sure to stop by again later in the season to sample this sweet/tart crispy juicy variety.

While apple picking season is generally considered to be in the fall, each variety essentially has its own little “mini-season.”  So keep checking the Pick Your Own hotline 860-349-6015 for updated “what’s picking” news and don’t miss out on trying each variety – you may just discover some new favorites!   

*Dates subject to change

Lyman Orchards' Annual Sunflower Maze Celebrates 25 years of Arthur

Nevaeh from the Connecticut Children’s Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders; beneficiaries of the Sunflower Maze at Lyman Orchards

Lyman Orchards to open Sunflower Maze on July 31

Middlefield, CT—Lyman Orchards, an independently-owned family destination for over 275 years, has announced that July 31 is the opening day for its 2021 Sunflower Maze. A three-acre area adorned with 350,000 blooming sunflowers, the maze is the only one of its kind in Connecticut. This year’s theme will center on Arthur Read, star of the popular CPTV kids’ series “Arthur.” A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 9:00 am, with Arthur himself in attendance.

One dollar of each admission fee will be donated to support Connecticut Children’s Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders. Connecticut Children’s is dedicated to helping children like Nevaeh—an eight-year-old born with a rare genetic disorder who is doing great today, thanks to the comprehensive care she receives at Connecticut Children’s. Lyman Orchards’ Sunflower Maze has raised over $148,000 for Connecticut's only health system dedicated exclusively to the care of children since the maze began operations in 2006.

“It is our utmost honor to help children and their parents in need of financial support for medical care,” states Lyman Orchards Executive Vice President John Lyman. “We look forward every year to opening our Sunflower Maze, knowing that we are providing lots of family-oriented fun while supporting a terrific cause.”   

“We are so grateful for the generosity of the Lyman Orchards family, whose support enables our team of pediatric experts to provide the highest quality care for families throughout our community,” says David Kinahan, President, Connecticut Children’s Foundation.

About Lyman Orchards:

Situated on 1,100 acres in Middlefield, Connecticut, Lyman Orchards is a year-round family destination. Established in 1741, Lyman Orchards offers a variety of recreational activities and venues for adults and children of all ages—including pick-your-own fruit orchards, a farm market, seasonal mazes, 36 holes of championship golf, a par-29 nine-hole course, one of the top golf training facilities in the state of Connecticut, 1741 Pub & Grill, meeting and event space, and seasonal festivals. For more information, call Lyman Orchards at 860-349-1793 or visit lymanorchards.com.    

About Connecticut Children’s:

Connecticut Children’s is the only health system in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to the care of children and ranked one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and a Magnet®-designated hospital. Connecticut Children’s provides more than 30 pediatric specialties along with community-based programs to uniquely care for the physical, social, and emotional needs of children. Our team of pediatric experts and care coordinators bring access to breakthrough research, advanced treatments for both rare and common diseases, and innovative health and safety programs to every child. Connecticut Children’s is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to improve access to healthcare for all children through convenient locations, care alliances, and partnerships. For more information, visit connecticutchildrens.org.