Editor’s note: This story is part of the Eat, Play, Live special section.
There’s little more that’s iconically small-town American in the summer than heading to an orchard or farm to pick your own bounty and taking the fruits of your labor back home where they’ll be transformed into pies, pastries, jellies and jams.
Luckily for Centre County residents, one of the area’s favorite farms for this experience happens to be located in Port Matilda.
Way Fruit Farm has been a family-owned business for six generations, starting in the early 1800s, when the very first Ways, Robert and Martha, purchased the land in 1826. It would be a while until the farm began turning out its much-loved produce, though. The first apple trees for commercial usage weren’t planted until 1872, when a young bride married into the family, bringing her father’s gift of 1,000 apple trees.
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That wedding gift was the start of the farm visitors see today, and now they can pick or purchase not only apples, but other favorite summer fruits such as strawberries, blueberries and peaches, as well as corn, pumpkins and several other items. They’ve also opened their new farm store (originally built in 1958 and expanded in 2009) to other local producers in the region, to sell additional vegetables, meats, dairy, preserves and more — they even offer great gifts from local artisans. The 2009 expansion also added a cafe and bakery to the spot, serving breakfast and lunch.
Those looking to pick their own will find the strawberries available soonest, usually in mid-June. July sees a larger number of items coming into season, including apples, peaches, cherries, sweet corn and plums. In late August and early fall, the apples are still available, as are the corn and plums — but this is when the pumpkins and pears become available as well. If you’re looking for a particular option, you can check out the farm’s website, wayfruitfarm.com, where its 20 apple varieties are listed, as well as best uses. Way Fruit Farm even boasts its own variety, the Jonagold, created by a relative of one of the previous Way Fruit Farm owners.
Can’t set aside a Saturday to pick your own? No problem. Way Fruit Farm sells plenty of already-picked items, in addition to the other food found in their store. They also make their way to the local farmers markets, including Boalsburg Farmers Market every Tuesday and State College Farmers Market on Fridays.
Beyond being a great place to pick up your produce, Way Fruit Farm also offers educational opportunities for budding agriculturalists and novices alike (the fruit tree trimming workshop is in April, and the Apple Cider Demonstration Day is in October). However, events for the entire family include the Apple Blossom Festival in May, and the Fall Festival, in October.
If you go
Where: 2355 Halfmoon Valley Road, Port Matilda
Info: 692-5211, www.wayfruit farm.com