Cricklewood Farm is a fun place for tastebuds. 50 Varieties of apple grow there. Located on the south side of County Road 2 just west of Brighton, Owners Beth and Brent Siwicky have been tending their six acres of crunchy eating fun for decades.
The business has been in the family since the late 40’s according to Beth. Brent’s grandparents and uncle managed around 20 acres of apples back then.
Times change and so has the apple orchard. Although considerably smaller, it is considerably more exotic than it was 50 years ago.
Beth says that since the year 2000, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Ontario Apple Growers Association have been shipping apple varieties every other year to their farm and 7 other farms around the province for evaluation.
Every now and then somebody from a government department or a farmer come along she says to ask about how the varieties are doing in the moderate lakeside climate.
Most of the varieties have thrived according to Beth. A few haven’t.
Cricklewood Farms is a retail operation with very little wholesale with customers coming from Toronto to Ottawa.
With 50 varieties, come specialized customers. #17 apple, known for its extreme tartness is an exotic delight that is limited to eight trees. When the apples from those trees are sold, that is it. People pre-order at Cricklewood.
The big sellers are what you would expect. Honey Crisp, Empire and Macintosh. Coming up close behind according to Beth, Ginger Gold, Aurora Golden Gala and Ambrosia.
The season is drawing to a close at Cricklewood Farm. November 26 is the last day to pick up apples.
But there is more than the apple in your eye at Cricklewood. There is raspberry picking earlier in the year, corn buying, Monster Hunting, pumpkin purchasing … then there is the Corn Maze. A major attraction for many years.
Two miles at its longest, one mile at its shortest it is a fun walk that, bad pun alert, “a-mazed” 3,000 people this summer. Although they have tried GPS software for laying out the maze, they most recently have planted the maze in all directions (north/south:east/west) resulting in a more controlled dot pattern that has allowed them with mowers and by simply pulling corn out by hand to really get the fine details in the design.
Funds raised for donation to the Primrose Donkey Centre exceeded $1.500 goal this year.
Starting with World Vision, twelve years ago, every year Cricklewood Farm has donated part of its receipts from the Corn Maze to charitable foundations.
It’s a busy life running the business according to Beth. Downtime during the winter is spent planning the maze, attending a conference and catching up on the book work. Her husband is also rushed off his feet. He cash crops other lands as well as managing the spraying, pruning and harvesting of the orchards during the year.
Running an apple orchard is a chancy business. This year Beth rates the harvest as 4.5 on a scale of one to five. Last year with the drought, she rates the return that year at 2.5. The year before because of hail and frost, the rating was a miserable 1.
What does Beth like most about the business?
“I like being outdoors. I like meeting the customers. It is really enjoyable to see returning customers every year. To get to know them and find out how they are doing.”
The maze is closed for the season, the other fun food of the summer no more. There are some treats in the gift section of the store. But rest assured, the apples are there. Mmmmmm…. many varieties for those of you seeking apple adventures for your taste buds.
November 10 to November 26: Fri. Sat. Sun: 10 to 4
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