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Fun with the fruits of fall

For the average college student fresh fruit is not exactly on the top of the grocery list. But for those who love the colorful food group and want something fun to do, why not check out two apple orchards just right outside of Bowling Green.

Steven and Mary Haslinger are the owners of Haslinger Orchards located at 7404 Eastern U.S. Route 6 in Gibsonburg, which is about 20 to 30 minutes east of Bowling Green. The orchard is open year round and it does business with various age groups – all hungry for their harvests.

Haslinger Orchards go way back as a family business when the first trees were planted in 1927 by Steven’s grandfather, John Haslinger. Steven’s father took over in 1946 and in 1996, Steven took over the family business.

Throughout the years, the orchards have grown to cover roughly 50 acres of fruit and vegetables – with 4,000 apple trees covering the land alone. Haslinger Orchards has a wide variety of apples including Red and Golden Delicious, and even Ohio’s own state apple.

“The Melrose is the Ohio apple,” said Steven. “It is a crisp tart apple with a sweet flavor.”

In addition to those apples, the Orchards also carry Idared, Jonathan, Macintosh, Fuji, Granny Smith and Lodi apples.

“In fact, the Fuji is among the college students’ favorites,” he said. “They like its hard-crisp, but sweet taste.”

With October being the orchard’s busiest season, Haslinger said the sales have been good with just the right amount of rain and sunlight provided. In fact, the rain provides for a higher sugar content in the apples making them even more delicious, he said.

Fortunately for the Haslingers, the recent spinach scare did not affect them. They use the Integrated Pest Management System, and have been successful with the program for the past 15 years.

“Basically, it comes down to the good bugs eating the bad bugs which allows for the use of the fewest chemical sprays possible,” said Haslinger.

Haslinger Orchards have a mass variety of healthy, clean apples, but how does one know which apple to pick?

The Fuji apple is a grocery store familiarity for its hard skin and crisp, sweet taste. A softer skinned apple is the Macintosh, and the Lodi apple is known for its sourness. Another sour-tasting apple is the infamous Granny Smith apple. For those who crave the sweet taste of the caramel dip, the tart tasting apples such as the Lodi apple are the best.

“You need a sour tart apple because the sweet apples clash with the dip,” said Haslinger.

In addition to the apples, Haslinger Orchards also carries other fruits, including peaches, pears, plums, strawberries and nectarines. And from neighboring orchards the Haslingers trade and sell blackberries and blueberries. They hope to adopt strawberries in the near future, Haslinger said.

The Haslingers also grow and sell sweet corn, tomatoes, summer and winter squash, zucchini, pickles and pumpkins.

Hungry or not, Haslinger Orchards has something for everyone. Other orchard perks include free hot and cold homemade cider drinks and free apple samples.

If one orchard is not enough for Bowling Green, there is also Mac Queen’s Orchard located at 7605 Garden Rd. in Holland, Ohio. The 220-acre orchard is open year round, seven days a week.

The orchards began as a family business in 1935 and today Bob and Marlene Mac Queen, along with their two sons, own Mac Queen’s Orchards.

Covering the property are about 35,000 apple trees. From those trees come 24 different varieties of apples including Mac Queen’s most popular apple, the Honey Crisp.

Usually the orchards have a “pick-your-own” special, but due to the upcoming winter, customers can now buy apples in the market at the orchards for $.99 Ib or $24.95 a bushel.

“When it comes to our customers we encounter all ages,” said Bob Mac Queen.

This includes college students.

“I went with my sorority and we had a blast!” said Lauren Loomis, sophomore.

In addition to a wide array of apples, Mac Queen’s also offers 30 acres of peach trees.

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