You'll go out of your gourd for these local farms
By Jen Jones Donatelli
Relish your weekly trip to the farmer's market? Take it a step further by going straight to the source at one of Cleveland's numerous farms and orchards. The fall harvest has never been so much fun.
Mapleside Farms 294 Pearl Rd., Brunswick
The hills are alive at this scenic farm and orchard, which boasts more than 122 acres and 4,000 apple trees. And it's beautiful to boot--Mapleside was once named "America's Most Beautiful Farm." Among the 17 varieties ripe for the picking are Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, and Empire. In the fall, the farm morphs into Pumpkin Village, replete with giant (7-acre) corn maze and the country's longest Super Slide at 311 feet; visit during Pumpkin Fest weekend (Oct. 7 and 8) to browse Ohio's largest pumpkin patch. Other attractions include two jumping pillows for kids, a barnyard petting zoo, and special themed festivals. Feel like getting a major thrill? Try the Zombie Paintball event on Sept. 29.
Patterson Fruit Farm 11414 Caves Rd., Chesterland (produce market and café); 8765 Mulberry Rd., Chesterland
Seasonal strawberry- and apple-picking are the name of the game at this storied fruit farm, which has two locations in Chesterland. One of the best ways to experience Patterson is during its annual Fun Fest, held for several months in the fall (Sept. 16-Oct. 29). Families can engage in activities like horse-drawn wagon and pony rides, nature hikes and pumpkin painting, while more adventurous types can climb a tree house, ride the 50-foot double slide, wander a corn maze, or play in the haystack. For year-round enjoyment, check out the farm's produce stand for everything from delicious apple cider to fresh maple syrup.
Hale Farm Harvest Festival 686 Oak Hill Rd., Bath
Get your harvest on with this annual tradition at Bath's rustic Hale Farm & Village. Held Oct. 7-8 and 14-15 this year, the festival offers a veritable cornucopia of activities from apple butter making to pumpkin painting. Time your visit right, and you just might catch a cameo from Johnny Appleseed. To cap off the experience, make a trip to the on-site pumpkin patch for a great pumpkin that would make even Charlie Brown proud.
Lake Metroparks Farmpark 8800 Euclid Chardon Rd. (Rt.6), Kirtland
Watch a border collie in all its herding glory as it rounds up the farm's sheep, explore the hydroponics greenhouse at the Plant Science Center, or learn about the history of maple sugaring at the Woodland Center. The Lake Metroparks Farmpark is open year round (except on select holidays), but fall brings some special events you'll want to check out including a Sunset Maze Walk, the Family Farm & Bike Ride and Halloween Teen Fright Site Creations.