Corn mazes, picking apples and pumpkins, corn stalks, colorful florals and hayrides all make the list of things families in the area want to do once the weather turns crisp.

And when it comes to finding a fun fall activity, many families look no further than the local farm.

At Elwood Orchards on Elwood Road in Londonderry, families enjoyed this past sunny but cooler weekend, picking apples, climbing aboard a hay wagon for a ride around the property, and taking a jaunt through Elwood's corn maze, an annual design of twists and turns leading around and through 15 acres of tall stalks and husks.

The Elwood family has run the farm since 1910.

Once fall arrives, families can then stop by the bucolic farm to choose the best pumpkins from a heaping pile, take a taste of a newly-picked apple or find just the right bumpy gourd to take home.

About 17 years ago, it was time to do something different at Elwood Orchards. A corn maze was added to give an extra boost to the local autumn season. The farm was already well known for its generations of working the land and offering fresh produce on the homegrown farm.

The first maze was small, only about an acre of cornstalks to meander through. Customers loved that early maze and the idea caught on in a big way with more and more field used as years passed, making the maze larger and larger.

Also in Londonderry, Oliver Merrill and Sons farm is busy selling all sorts of seasonal produce at its farm stand on Mammoth Road.

But the farm made the decision this season to change its operation a bit to keep customers safe. That includes disbanding with a "pick-your-own" option for apples.

"After careful consideration and a sense of an overabundance of caution, we have decided to sell our crop in other manners this fall," the farm stated on social media. "Two factors have led to this decision, a smaller than normal crop, and COVID-19 concerns. Our farm stand will remain open on a normal schedule and will continue to serve our customers."

Merrill farm owners urged people wanting to pick their own apples to support other farms in Londonderry who offer that option.

Sunnycrest Farm on High Range Road touts its apple crop even with drought conditions and the pandemic.

Keeping customers safe is also paramount, said farm staff member Julie Tyler, adding the apple crop this season is "tremendous."

This past weekend's visitor numbers also attributed to farm success.

"We had the busiest weekend we've had in a long time," Tyler said. "Even with the drought, we are hanging in there."

Sunnycrest wants people to be safe, with masks recommended inside and all staff members wearing masks when dealing with customers.

For those wanting to pick apples and other fruit, Sunnycrest offers an outdoor area to register, as well as inviting people inside to browse.

And for those people seeking warm apple cider doughnuts, an outdoor pickup window is ready to serve.

Mack's Apples on Mammoth Road dates back to circa 1732 and is considered to be the longest running family farm in the area. The farm offers pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, and a farm market full of fruits, vegetables, florals and other seasonal fare.

To make sure customers remain safe, Mack's noted on social media that specific rules were in place this season.

"When picking apples, we ask that you wear a mask when in line paying for your apples, with only one person in the group in line and the others stay at the car," the statement read. "Once you get your bag, then everyone can go into the orchard and social distance and pick. Please no animals are allowed in the orchard this year."

Farm general manager Mike Cross said pick-your-own apple experiences brought out big crowds this past weekend.

"We have a big crop of apples," Cross said, adding some are smaller due to possible drought effects, but all in all, people are enjoying the season.

"We are doing okay, we had a busy weekend," Cross said.

Anyone wanting to then visit the farm's market area need to keep a mask on inside for added protection and safety.

In Derry, J & F Farms also offers its own corn maze along with a lot of other seasonal activities and fun including a farm stand, petting area with cows and goats, and hayrides.

J & F is also a longstanding local farm, family-owned since 1906.

Apples, corn mazes, farm stands and more

Mack's Apples — 230 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 603-434-7691; pick-your-own apples/pumpkins, farm market, produce, seasonal florals.

Sunnycrest Farm — 59 High Range Road, Londonderry, 603-432-7753; pick-your-own apples/fruit, farm market, baked goods, seasonal produce, fresh flowers to cut.

Elwood Orchards — 54 Elwood Road, Londonderry, 603-432-6017; pick-your-own apples, farm market, corn maze, hayrides.

Oliver Merrill and Sons — 569 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 603-622-6636; farm stand, eggs, fruit, vegetables.

J &F Farms — 124 Chester Road, Derry, 603-437-0535; farm market, meats, vegetables, fruits, florals, petting farm, hayrides, corn maze.


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