Apples helping Melick recover from soaked summer
CALIFON — The weather was finally feeling like fall on Sunday, Oct. 22, when families flocked to Melick’s Califon Orchard for apple picking.
Owner John Melick said after a bad season for vegetables, apples are doing well. Of all the varieties Melick’s grows, only the Honey Crisps struggled with the heat and moisture over the summer, he said.
“It was the worst year I can remember,” Melick said of his pumpkin crop. “Fortunately, apples are a bigger part of our fall.”
Melick grows 45 acres of apples in Califon. The Oldwick farm stand does more business and used to be a bigger orchard, but the family has more land in Califon and more trees.
“We do a lot of planting for our wholesale operation in Califon,” Melick said. “In Oldwick we hold back more for pick-your-own.”
Califon’s orchard also holds four acres of hard cider varieties.
“We have trouble keeping up with the demand,” Melick said of the hard cider. “We offer a lot of styles and have them on draft in Oldwick,” he added.
“Alcoholic beverages are a tough business,” he said, noting cider producers have some of the same issues as wineries. Selling directly to customers works better than going through a distributor and retailer, he noted.
Melick has been monitoring the orchards to see what’s left, but figures on three more weeks of picking.
Melick’s also offers pick-your-own peaches in summer at the Califon orchard. During both seaons, Bonnie Terry of Just One More Farm brings her mules to pull a hay wagon to bring customers into the orchard.
In Oldwick, the market offers seasonal fruits and vegetables from the farm as well as plants and shrubs, jams and jellies and baked goods. The country store features gift items. In season it offers fall decorations, Christmas trees and wreathes. The farm also features pick-your-own flowers and strawberries in the spring.
Another farm stand is in Bridgewater and Melick’s participates in farmers’ markets in Chatham, Denville, Highland Park, Hoboken, Madison and New Providence.
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