Germany’s highlight: Orchards and farms

Apples and apple juice on barrel.
Apples and apple juice on barrel.

Germany’s highlight: Orchards and farms

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

When the autumn air feels crisper, the days begin to shorten and the leaves turn brilliant shades of gold before fluttering to the ground, I’m always reminded of the harvest season. Growing up in an agricultural town in northern California, fall was a time when the almond trees were picked clean, and rows of sugar beets were planted. In Germany, the harvest time in Rhein-Main and the Rheinland-Pfalz is typically marked with boisterous festivals and celebrations.

Appel Happel, Mainz

In a region known for its world-famous “Apfelwein,” it’s no surprise there Is an abundance of apple orchards along the Rhein-Main-Rheinland-Pfalz border. On the southwestern outskirts of Mainz sits Appel Happel, a large family-owned farm. The vast orchards produce more than 15 types of delicious fruit. Visitors can taste samples of the different apples to help determine which ones are best suited for baking and which ones to throw in the lunch bag for a quick snack.

Beginning in late August through the end of October, the farm encourages you to roam through the orchards with your friends and family and pick your own fruit. Even if apples aren’t your favorite, they also grow pears, plums and other sumptuous fruits. Children can exert their energy at the pop-up playground and pet barn animals at the small petting zoo. Appel Happel has become a popular mainstay at the Mainz Apple Festival, usually held the last weekend in September. Visitors flock to the street fest to purchase all things apple: cake, strudel, wine, juice, cider and more. Live entertainment and non-apple-based savory foods will tempt your tastebuds.

Hitscherhof Pumpkin Farm, Maßweiler

If capturing a holiday photo at a local pumpkin patch is a tradition in your family, don’t worry about trying to find one in Germany — they’re all over the place. While many will trek over to Ludwigsburg to check out their impeccable pumpkin art and see how much the largest pumpkin of the season weighs, there are many “Kürbisfarmen” right in your own backyard — including a place you can escape to for a quick, local staycation.

Complete with cozy bed and breakfast lodgings, Hitscherhof Pumpkin Farm in Maßweiler (between Kaiserslautern and Pirmasens) lets visitors cut their own orange-hued gourds from the vine. They also set up a corn maze and cut-your-own flowers for the perfect table arrangement. Be sure to pop by the store for farm-fresh produce, including more than 30 different pumpkin varieties or a batch of homemade roasted pumpkin soup.

As summer begins to fade and autumn shows off its spectacular colors, take a stroll through the orchards and farms of the Rheinland-Pfalz and Rhein-Main. Stop in and pick a perfectly plump pumpkin, or sort through bushels of apples to use in your favorite “Apfelkuchen” or family pie recipe.

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