In New England, apple picking is the quintessential fall fun activity. I actually didn't know going to an orchard to pick your own apples was a pastime until I moved to Boston, but after I went with my youth group during my freshman year of college I was hooked, and I've been apple picking with friends or family every fall since. I have beautiful memories of walking up and down rows of apple-laden (or sometimes picked bare!) trees, trying to climb to the top and always searching for the shiniest, juiciest apples. Even one of Francisco and my first dates was apple picking.
In my 15 years of residency on the East Coast, I've visited a variety of apple orchards in New England nearly every autumn and a few years ago, I thought I had finally found the perfect place. Tougas Family Farm had everything you wanted for your perfect fall afternoon--apple and pumpkin picking, fresh apple cider and donuts, kettle corn, a petting farm, a hayride, and a playground for the kids. But it also had something I never expected: racial profiling and discrimination.
When Maya was a baby and we had family visiting us from New Jersey and Guatemala, I thought the perfect New England experience would be to take them apple picking, so we loaded up and went to Tougas Family Farm, a place I had visited many times before. We had a pleasant enough time at the beginning, but a hale storm that June had damaged the apples, so we had to search particularly closely to find nice-looking apples without ugly pock marks on them. It was a busy, warm day and after spending so long out in the sun, one of our family members volunteered to sit in the shade by the tractor with our large $40 bag of apples, while the rest of the members in our group perused for a few more apples.
Tia Mari and I set out up a row of blondee apple trees and I picked out six and carried them in my hands as we made our way back down the row and toward the main thoroughfare. Nobody said anything to me, a white woman with her arms filled with apples. But as soon as I passed the apples to my husband's aunt from Guatemala, an employee came up to her and asked her in broken Spanish where was her bag. She tried to explain that it was too heavy to carry around, but the employee proceeded to follow her all the way to the bag and make sure the 6 additional apples fit on top.
Here we are enjoying the day at Dowse Orchards, Sherborn.