RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring visited Marker-Miller Orchards Farm Market and Bakery and Glaize Apples in Winchester on Thursday to celebrate National Apple Month and the peak of Virginia’s apple harvest season. The state’s apple harvest season begins in August and peaks in October and November. Virginia apples are available at pick-your-own farms, farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and roadside stands.
“Now is a beautiful time of year for families to get out into the orchard and pick their own, or head to the grocery store and look for Virginia grown apples,” said First Lady Northam. “With so many delicious varieties of apples grown here, everyone has an opportunity to have fun finding a favorite.”
Virginia apple orchards extend from Southwest Virginia, through the Central region, and up to the Northern Shenandoah Valley. Virginia apple growers produce many popular varieties such as Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome, Stayman, Gala, Winesap, York, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Fuji and Ginger Gold.
Virginia apples are sold to markets in many U.S. states and exported abroad. Seventy percent of Virginia apples are processed into popular products such as applesauce, apple juice, apple butter, and cider.
“Apples are big business in Virginia and a key component of our agriculture economy. Agriculture is the Commonwealth’s largest private industry, providing over 330,000 jobs and $70 billion in economic impact each year,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “Apples are one of our top 20 agriculture products, and Virginia ranks sixth in apple production for U.S. states.”
Apples also provide an economic boost through agritourism. Pick-your-own farms, apple festivals, and other events draw Virginians and out-of-state tourists alike to apple-growing regions each fall. Virginia is also home to a growing hard cider industry that features more than 20 producers selling their product in-state and throughout the country.
“We have used agritourism for more than 30 years to diversify farm income, and more importantly, welcome visitors to our farm and orchard. People come to pick apples, meet the farmer and make memories. Being part of a family’s tradition is priceless,” said John Marker, owner of Marker-Miller Orchards Farm Market and Bakery.
Consumers wanting to pick their own apples or find a Virginia cidery can search for farms at www.VirginiaGrown.com. Consumers should call ahead for fruit availability and hours of operation. A listing of apple festivals is available at www.virginiaapples.net/apple-events-festivals.
–Va. Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services