‘Bite Me!’ screams the shiny red gala as I pluck it from the tree. I oblige, crunching into the crisp white flesh, juice dribbling down my chin. The flavour is far sweater and fresher than any store-bought apple I’ve tasted recently, and I start filling my basket as I walk among the apple trees at Shields’ Orchard, Bilpin.
Sydneysiders are blessed, as the ‘food bowl’ of the Hawkesbury region is within easy reach of the city, although with development encroaching on the area, I wonder for how much longer – something being explored by the Contested Landscapes of Western Sydney field study.
Gala apples are ripe for picking at Shields’ Orchard now, so check their website for picking details. You don’t have to pick your own, though it makes a fun family outing, as you can purchase picked fruit from their shed, along with delicious homemade jams. (I love the peach and mango.)
For berries, stone fruit and more apples, head to Enniskillen Orchard in Grose Vale, where you can can have a coffee while checking out their extensive range of local produce, including nuts, jams, sauces and olives.
Both Shields’ and Enniskillen Orchards are founding members of Hawkesbury Harvest and are part of the original Hawkesbury Farm Gate Trail, which now extends to include the Sydney Hills to Brooklyn, Penrith Valley, and Wollondilly Harvest Experiences.
Check out the seasonal guide on the Hawkesbury Harvest site to see what fruit and vegetables are currently in season and plan your day, or just take a leisurely drive and stop at whatever roadside stalls take your fancy. It sure beats supermarket shopping and your tastebuds will love you for it.