LOGAN, Ohio (WCMH) – The beginning of fall brings out a lot of people to the traditional U-Pick apple orchard. There is one orchard in central Ohio that is anything but traditional.
Here, you won’t find a store where you can buy decorations, there’s no hot cider, and there’s not even a maze for you to stroll through. Instead, you’ll find apple varieties that date back to the Roman Empire.
Derek Mills started his orchard with more than 1,700 trees at the turn of the century. He was tired of buying only what was offered in the local grocery stores, and so Hocking Hills Orchard was grown.
“America is becoming, no matter what city you go to… everything is the same,” said Mills. “I like the taste of them. I love the history to them.”
The history of the apples goes back in time as far as the Roman Empire. You can find the orchard off of Nickel Plate Road, about a mile and a half off of U.S. 33 just outside of Logan, Ohio.
“We have funny names and whimsical names for apples for cider that are called Hens Turds, Goose Ass, Duck Bill, Cat Head,” Mills said with a grin. “I mean, how cool are those names to make cider with? Those are real Heirloom apple varieties from England.”
Should you ask him about the names of the apples, he’s got the story behind the name. For instance, the bloody plowman apple:
“Back in the day, everything was owned by the king and queen of England,” Mills said. “One day there was a plowman [or farmer], he sees the king’s orchard and grabs a few apples, throws them in his bag, and as he was leaving one of the king’s men sees him and shoots him with a bow and arrow.
“He races back to his house, his wife’s all panicked, the bag of apples is covered with his blood, she slings it into woods. One of those apple’s seeds came out and grew into a tree, which now they call the bloody plowman.”
Regardless of the stories, these apples are different. They are not polished, not typical of what you are used to eating, and they are fun to taste. The experience is sort of like tasting wine, and if you ask Mills what to expect, he’ll tell you. Then you can savor your fruit. Be careful, there are some trees that he grows only because they are interesting, and the fruit’s taste is kind of gross for the American pallet.
Here’s the deal, if you want to plan a trip to get some of these apples, you’ll have to make sure the orchard is open. He only opens it to the public on Saturdays. You can email ahead to check by clicking here.