For some, an apple is simply the punchline to an old proverb about healthcare or an after school snack. For others, apples are the culmination of a lifetime of work and the symbol of time well spent. Curt and Kristy Alldredge fall firmly in the second camp. As owners of Alldredge Orchards in Platte City, they have decades of experience cultivating a crop that many of us take for granted.
Curt Alldredge comes by his love of orchard management naturally--his family owned an orchard in St. Joseph, Mo. for many years. When his father passed away and they sold their orchards, he moved slightly south and established Alldredge Orchards--35 years ago. While he has time on his side when it comes to cultivating a mature orchard (and experience as his first degree was in Pomology or the science of growing fruit), business has really ramped up in recent years since social media exposure has given families the idea of apple picking as a great bonding experience.
And it is--Alldredge Orchards offers U-Pick every weekend in September and October with an additional pumpkin patch in October. This summer's drought means that most of the pumpkins will be trucked in but parents will still have plenty of photo ops of little ones racing to find the most sincere pumpkin in the patch.
Alldredge focuses on growing the apple varietals that you don't see much in stores, ones that are historically more often cultivated for cider production. He reels off a list of more than 20 varietals that they grow, including empire and Sweet 16. They also sell peaches in the summer.
Alldredge says that they are just as much an entertainment farm as they are a working orchard. They maintain a flock of very friendly chickens, a few ruffled geese, a peacock and a new flock of baby goats. They even have a miniature horse. They offer educational school tours during the week by appointment. They also have a children's playground area complete with slides and play equipment disguised as farm houses. For adults, they offer event space that often hosts weddings, with options for outdoor ceremonies and indoor receptions in their versatile barn.
A general store offers a peek into country life with apple butter, honey, and bags of apples for purchase. Each weekend features a different food truck for hungry pickers to revive themselves. A calendar of food trucks is available on their website, AlldredgeOrchards.com.
Alldredge Orchards offers a lot of variety for people looking to get away from it all while staying within sight of the city. But the most important thing they offer is a chance to reconnect with nature and whomever you bring picking with you. As the shady groves yield their bounty, the memories will grow.
10455 N Highway
Platte City, MO 64079
Alldredge focueses on growing the apple varietals that you don't see much in stores, ones that are historically more often cultivated for cider production. He reels off a list of more than 20 varietals that they grow, including empire and Sweet 16.
1. Pick in designated areas--the Alldredges and their staff know which tress have the ripest apples so stick to what's currently the best.
2. Wear appropriate shoes--no one needs to wear high heels to an orchard! There will be a fair amount of apples on the ground so you want to be stable while picking.
3. Don't climb--all of the apple trees at Alldredge Orchards are grown on dwarf root stock so that the fruit will be easy to reach. While trees are sturdy enough to hold a full harvest of apples, they may not support the weight of an adult.
4. Only pick what you intend to buy--once an apple hits the ground, either because of gravity or because of people shaking the trees unnecessarily, that apple can't be sold by law. So only pick what you intend to take home.
5. Enjoy yourself--apple picking is fun! You'll never look at store-bought apples the same way again. While these apples may have names you don't recognize and lack the waxy shine that you see in the produce department, they taste like apples should taste. Alldredge recommends keeping them in the fridge to help maintain their crunch and freshness.