Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Trip to Dixon Apple Orchard

Yesterday we went to opening day for this fall's apple crop at Dixon Orchard in Peña Blanca, New Mexico, northeast of Cochiti.

The setting is breath-taking - in the 6,200 foot-high, Rancho de Cañada, on the east side of the Jemez Mountain range, where the southern exposure and the lava rich volcanic ash soil provides a wonderful climate for growing apples.

The orchard is 50 acres in size, and has been in business for over 60 years, since 1943 when Fred and Faye Dixon discovered that the failed dude ranch they purchased was a perfect site for growing apples. It's not been an easy 66 years - the weather is always a factor in a good crop, and the orchard has been affected by droughts, frosts, and hail storms. The spring-fed creek of the cañada, aided by a system of acequias(irrigation ditches) has fed the orchard for many years; irrigation is now provided by high tech micro irrigation.

Every fall the Mullanes open the orchard to the public to purchase apples - and the trip to Dixon has become an annual tradition for many New Mexicans. This year's apple crop is very good, and the trees we saw were absolutely full of apples.

Yesterday was our first trip to the orchard to buy apples. It was a perfect crisp sunny fall day, and we waited in creeping traffic a mile long until we reached the orchard and were allowed in to park. What fun! There was a huge crowd there, lined up with the wheelbarrows the orchard provides to fill up with purchases. They had their specialty, Champagne apples, as well as Red Delicious, for sale, as well as cider, pumpkins, apple firewood, and a food stand with hot dogs and apple fritters. The mood was festive and we talked to some friendly New Mexicans.

Later in the month, their Sparkling Burgundy apples will be available, and being a small orchard combined with the huge crowds that make their way to Peña Blance each fall, they will sell out very quickly, and in a few weeks, the orchard will be closed again until the fall of 2010. And in 2010 we will go back again!


babyyellowcherries said...

Loved your blog and pictures. I was there today for my first time and just loved it too.

Your name "towanda" is so familiar to me. I will look for new blogs from you

I am from Albuquerque.

Towanda said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I am glad you liked it. Please visit and comment often!

Bag Blog said...

I never did the Dixon apple festival, but it looks like barrels of fun.