Harvest Fest has come and gone and the trees at the Buckner Orchard are still loaded with an overabundance of our historic Common Delicious and Rome Beauties.

As many of you know, it has been a long, late season everywhere for fruit ripening and harvesting, including at the Orchard. Persistent Harvest Fest participants were able to find near-ripe fruit to pick and press, but the majority of trees are still slowly beginning to bear truly ripe fruit.

Ripening is a function of starches changing to sugar, a change brought on by cooler weather. As nice as the weather has been here in the Valley, it just hasn't been cool enough, soon enough, for our apples to ripen in a timely fashion. As a result, the trees slowly continue to believe they have all the time in the world!

The good news is cooler weather is forecast and on the way, along with an abundance of apples much more suited for picking and pressing and all the good things we do with them.

We need you to pick, pick, pick and press, press, press as if your entire food supply for the winter was dependent upon it!

1. We have a great supply of free boxes of all sizes for your use. Take what you need, then one more to help move the harvest along. You won't regret it!

2. The cider press will remain out and available until all the apples are gone, or mid-November, which ever comes first. (Sadly, we are down to a single press. The other, the older of the two, has a stripped screw, the essential part used for actually pressing the apple pulp. The part is now on its way to be rebuilt. Does anyone have one to loan or donate? Let us know.)

3. Only the press and cleaning materials are available, so bring what you need for making cider. You know the drill.

4. Please, please, please remember to close all gates and keep the pressing area clean.

Q. So, what happens to the unpicked apples?
A. The apples are stripped from the trees, then picked up and hauled away, fed to pigs, used for compost, or just dumped somewhere appropriate. This is very time consuming.

WHY? This is a task necessitated by both rodents and bears. Mice are surprisingly destructive of the wintering trees; remember this is an organic orchard, free of pesticides and the like. Additionally, the electric bear fence must come down before snow fall, making the apples easy picking for our furry friends, and their doing so is very destructive of the trees.

On the other hand, your picking is far gentler and more appropriate, so help us out if you can!