Lakewood native Sharon Perdue spent two years searching for a piece of Front Range property where she could breed her draft horses. In 2003, she found a fertile, eight-acre piece of land in Longmont, on Burch Lake, that came with a little something extra: a 20-tree apple orchard.
When she wasn’t tending to her horses, Perdue nurtured Ya Ya Farm & Orchard’s trees, taking the literal fruits of her labor to Longmont’s weekly farmers’ market. There she listened to customers wax poetic about childhood memories of fall apple-picking on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Inspired by their fond recollections, Perdue expanded her orchard to 860 trees, which today hold 128 apple varieties, from McIntosh and Macoun to Winesap and Honeycrisp. Beginning this month, and through mid-October, families can pluck apples, enjoy on-site picnics, and even press off-the-tree fruit into cider a couple of apples at a time using a 1990s-era hand-cranked press. (The press is significantly more modern than the three antique versions in Perdue’s collection.) Given the growing popularity of cider, Perdue plans to renovate one of the property’s historic barns into a modern, operational cider mill (which will also produce the hard stuff) over the next two years. We’ll be ready to pick our fruit and drink it too.