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Johnny Appleseed's Farm not offering 'pick your own apples' after frost killed their crop

The owners of the farm in Ellington said the freeze in February and May ruined their apple and peach crops.

ELLINGTON, Conn. — Johnny Appleseed's Farm in Ellington recently announced that 'pick your own apples' will not happen this year. 

The May and February freeze affected their apple and peach crops which has been a first for the owners. 

There are about 14 kinds of apples at the orchard and none of them survived the frost. 

The owners then had to make the tough decision to close the orchard this fall so customers would not eat rotten apples. 

"We’ve never lost an entire apple crop in the whole time we’ve done this!" said Kimberly Howden-Shores, owner of Johnny Appleseed's Farm. "On February 4, we had -12 degrees. That killed all the buds for the peaches and the plums. In mid-May, it was the 17th, we had a very heavy frost, the apples were just coming out of flower and it killed those buds." 

To make up for the loss, Howden-Shores and her husband, Kenyon Shores have had to bring in apples from other orchards, but that has also come at a cost. 

"The price of paying for them and trucking them when you’re still taking care of your own orchard," added Howden-Shores. 

It is not just apples this year. Peaches and pumpkins both took a hard hit from the heavy rain and flooding this summer. 

 "It's a disease called Phytophthora and when it gets wet, it destroys everything," said Kenyon Shores, owner of Johnny Appleseed's Farm. 

Loyal customers like Margaret Wilke were used to picking their own apples with her family, but instead, she had to buy them from the farm store instead. 

"I think it’s really sad. I usually get my apples here for making pies and everything for Thanksgiving. Usually, there’s a whole all the way around – all different kinds of apples to choose from and I’m looking for pears and I’m looking for peaches and all they have is the bin of Macintosh apples," said Wilke of Windsor. 

However, the weather is not all to blame. 

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The owners used to buy 25,000 half-bushel bags of apples every year and last year, they only sold 5,600. 

"I think a lot of people have done it. It’s kind of grown old, it’s like let’s go try something else this year," added Shores. 

Other farms around the state have had the same issue. 

Shores is encouraging people to shop at their local farm stands as a temporary alternative until the next fall comes around. 

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and X.


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