Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Local Destination: Hill Creek Farms

Last year we took a wrong turn out in Mullica Hill, NJ and found ourselves passing one of the prettiest and most inviting orchards we'd ever seen.  We couldn't help circling back and turning in.  We hopped out, looked around, and asked some questions.  It was too late in the season to do the place justice, so we promised ourselves and the location that we'd be back the following year to let everyone know about this fantastic Local Destination!

We thought Hill Creek Farms was impressive on the off-season, but seeing it in full swing and bustling with activity was just amazing.  It is literally what you picture when you try to imagine a farm in the autumn (take note photographers!).  Beyond the white fence along the road you see a beautiful red barn across a glittering pond.  Add the orchard in the background and the cheery hayrides and colorful barrel train going by and it becomes a place that you just have to pull into and check out.
Hill Creek Farms is opened for U-Pick Apples and harvest festivities for two and half months, beginning the very end of August.  They are open Wednesday to Sunday (plus Monday, October 12th for Columbus Day) from 9:00am to 6:00pm on the weekdays and 8:00am to 6:00pm on the weekends, and unlike other farms, their activities are open everyday that they are.  They grow three varieties of trees - Jonagold De Coster, Cameo, and Autumn Rose Fuji - chosen for their great taste, texture, and harvesting times..  Many other apple varieties have also been planted for future harvests, so look forward to experiencing new tastes in the coming years.  Hill Creek Farms is more than just a U-Pick apple orchard.  You can also lease trees from this location for only $225 for a set of the three varieties growing side by side (or $400 for six trees).  The fruit from the trees are exclusively yours - yielding huge amounts of apples for an extended harvest season.
This location makes the most of its apple crop (and Asian Pears too!) with a bakery right on the premises in the barn market.  There's even a window into the bakery, so visitors can watch the creation of pies, turnovers, doughnuts, and caramel apples - mmmmmm!  This year the orchard is also producing its own Hill Creek Farms Apple Cider along with Fralinger's Cider (locally grown and made for over 100 years!).  Hot cider and fresh coffee is available as well (since you know you won't be waiting until you get home to indulge in the yummy baked goods).
The barn market is stocked full with goodies like jams, jellies, honey, and locally grown produce, as well as festive fall décor for indoors and outdoors.  Cornstalks, flags, mums, pumpkins, collectables, ornaments, toys, and so much more are all for sale at great prices.  You can also purchase tickets for the barrel train while you're shopping (it's absolutely adorable and only $3 for a ticket!).  However, if you try to buy a ticket for a hayride here as well, they will just send you on your way - hayrides are FREE at Hill Creek Farms, and it's a great ride!
There's even more things to do around the farm with a fun play area (including a sand and tire climbing space, slides, and bean bag tosses), Duck Races, a Charlie Brown-themed pumpkin patch, and the newly added Hill Creek Mining Company.  The play areas and grounds are FREE to enter, explore, and picnic in - beautiful and fun for all ages.  The farm also offers great birthday packages.
Hill Creek Farms has a harvest schedule packed full of special events, contests, and celebrations, so there's always a good excuse to keep coming back to this wonderful location.  Definitely add this place to your list of harvest fun!  We're so glad that we took a wrong turn and found ourselves at this fun and gorgeous place.  We'll definitely be back again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that....
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