Peach Picking Fun at Branstool Orchards

This post was written in partnership with Branstool Orchards.

Peaches at the grocery store are hit or miss, am I right? Mostly miss, in my opinion. I’m always afraid to buy them because they usually disappoint. There is nothing like a sweet, juicy peach, but they are just hard to come by at your local grocery store.

Did you know you could pick your own peaches in Central Ohio? I’ll be honest, I did not. I figured peaches had to come on a truck from Georgia, therefore they were picked early with a makeshift calculation for landing on the shelf at peak ripeness. (Can you tell I’m a little bitter about grocery store peaches?)

Little did I know, amazing, juicy, sweet peaches are yours to be had less than an hour down the road from downtown Columbus (Ohio, not Columbus, GA 😉 )! Branstool Orchards is a beautiful spot off Route 62 in Utica, OH where you can pick your own peaches! (And not just peaches! Apples and pears are available, too!)

Picking your own peaches at Branstool Orchards is a relaxing and family-friendly experience. Kids are encouraged to take part, dogs are welcome, and there are picnic tables throughout the orchard where you can stop and have a snack or a picnic! Branstool Orchards wants your family to have a good time when you visit! They want it to be an outing where your whole family is relaxed and enjoying the process, not just the end result!

You can pick up a wagon (for either your kids or your peaches) and stroll through the orchard. I think most kids LOVE this kind of thing! It’s so good for them to make the connection about where their food comes from, and I think they enjoy it more when they know they’ve hand-picked what they’re eating.

I don’t know many kids you have to convince to eat a peach, but mine can be weird about eating a lot of things I personally think are delicious, so you never know. I do know that being able to pick the peaches and eat them out in the orchard made my kids 100% willing to eat them at home – something that is never a given!

You guys, it’s beautiful! It’s relaxing and unpretentious. Are there farms that are pretentious? I don’t know, but that just feels like a good way to describe the orchard!

Peach season is typically July through September. This year things came a little early at the orchard, so they are expecting just 2-3 more weeks of peach availability! Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates on what peaches are currently available.

If you don’t have time to pick your own, no worries! Pre-picked peaches are available in the market.

Branstool Orchards handpicks their own peaches at the perfect point of ripeness and then employees hand sort them, picking out “seconds” that don’t meet their quality standards. We got to see this first hand, and you can too, as the workspace is visible from and attached to the market. Don’t worry, the “seconds” don’t go to waste, you can buy them at a reduced price for canning or jam!

Branstool Orchards is partnering with several local businesses: Columbus Brewing Company is using Branstool peaches for a peach beer! If you head down the road to Velvet Ice Cream Factory, you can get a peach sundae made from Branstool peaches!  Urban Spreads uses Branstool peaches in their jam, sold at the market! So many amazing ways to eat (or drink) a peach!

Another great thing about the produce grown at Branstool Orchards is their chemical-free initiatives. Over the past several years they have been reducing their use of chemical pesticides by using mating disruption and companion planting. You can read more about that here. They also polish their apples instead of using the wax you will find on your grocery store apples which is another bonus!

With the exception of just a few items, everything in the farm market is from Ohio. The produce that is not peaches, apples or pears is from local Amish farms, provided for your one-stop convenience, and (just so you know) there are also two options for cobbler topping available for purchase! 😉

If you can’t make it out for peaches, Apples will be available to pick until November! You can see the approximate ripening dates here and make a plan for this fall!

I hope you and your kids can carve out a day for peach picking before the season ends!

Know Before You Go:

Website: Branstool Orchards
Address: 5895 Johnstown-Utica Rd NE, Utica, OH 43080
Phone: 740-892-3989
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM-6:00PM, Sunday: 10:00 AM-5:00 PM

  • It is recommended that you allow at least 1 hour for U-Pick.
  • U-Pick peaches are $1.50/lb.
  • There is a $10 minimum for peach-picking.
  • Boxes are provided for picking.

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ICYMI: Your Kid’s First Swim Lesson at Goldfish Swim School: What to Expect

3 Can’t-Miss Pumpkin Patches near Columbus

First of all, let’s just talk about last year.

Our only “pumpkin patch” experience involved waiting way too long in line at a location that will remain nameless (because I honestly can’t remember which one it was). We waited so long in fact, that the price we would have to pay became too much to spend for the time we had left! My friends and I had to bribe our kids with ice cream to get them out of line and give up on pumpkins.

Then, despite the fact that he talked non stop about what he wanted to be for Halloween, it was too cold and/or rainy on trick-or-treat night and we were out of town for both weekends of Boo at the Zoo. So I just never told him when Halloween was and he managed to eventually forget about it. Major #momfail! Honestly, neither of our kids noticed or suffered any irreparable damage, as best I can tell, but I do still feel a little bit guilty that there will be no costume pictures from ages 1 and 4 of our kids’ lives.

But this year? I actually feel like we hit the lottery! First of all, October has been beautiful! And, secondly, we’ve already done 3 “pumpkin patch” experiences that will definitely stay on the rotation for next year! I did my own cost-benefit analysis 😉 and I feel like somehow I managed to make the right choices! So let me save you the effort and tell you why these 3 experiences are a great deal!

1. Jacquemin Farms

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I chose Jacquemin Farms for 2 reasons: it’s open during the week and it’s very inexpensive! Where most of the pumpkin patches have “Fall Festival Weekends” – they’re just that, only open on the weekends! I totally understand why, but I was definitely in the market for some places to take my kids during the week when there would be smaller crowds!

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Before 3:00 PM on the weekdays, kids ages 3-10 can play in the straw maze and corn box for $2 each (ages 2 and under are free)! During the weekends and after 3:00 PM on weekdays, the farm has bouncy houses (which my kids aren’t huge fans of anyway) and the cost is $6 per kid.

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If you arrive early enough, there are pumpkin donuts for sale in the market! (Alas, we did not!) But we did enjoy apple cider slushies!

You can also go out into the field to pick your own pumpkin! When we visited, the pumpkin fields were very wet and muddy. They recommended that we not go out into the field (though we were welcome to if we chose to)! We picked out a couple of pumpkins to take home from inside the market.

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Know Before You Go:
7437 Hyland Croy Rd., Plain City, OH 43064, 614-873-5725
October Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 6:00 PM, Sunday 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM.

2. DeMonye’s Haunted Greenhouse

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For years, I could see this green house from 670 and could not figure out where it was or how to get to it! I didn’t know the name of it, so there was no way to find out! When researching about different pumpkin patch options, I was able to connect the dots! There are two reasons the experience at deMonye’s is great, in my opinion! The cost is $8, but only per child (adults are free!) and what you get for $8 is a LOT!

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When the kids walk through the door, they get a goody bag with candy, pumpkin stickers and little Halloween trinkets. They each get to pick a pumpkin and can decorate it at one of the many tables they have within the greenhouse. There is unlimited popcorn and the kids each get a bottle of juice!

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Also included in the cost is…

Straw maze:

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Corn box:

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Basketball play area:

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Bean bag toss:

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Bouncy house:

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Planting a flower to take home:

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Dodge ball area:

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Petting zoo (well, more of a looking zoo):

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and the Haunted House:

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The haunted house was a bit scary for my kids. They made it through about 3/4 of the way and then got freaked out in a room full of spiders and it was kind of downhill from there. The truth is, you could do everything else and not even know this “haunted” area was there! We almost didn’t do it because, at first, I didn’t realize where it was (the back corner)!

My kids had a blast here! I felt like it was well worth $16 for both of them because there were so many things to do and the price included food AND a pumpkin!

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There are lots of Halloween decorations and other pumpkins and gourds for sale within the shop!

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Know Before You Go:
2500 Airport Dr., Columbus, OH 43219, 614-252-6046
October Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Saturday: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Sunday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

3. Freeman’s Farm

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As I mentioned earlier, my experience with pumpkin patches is pretty limited, but our experience at Freeman’s Farm was darn near idyllic.

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In my cost-benefit analysis, I noticed that most of the Fall Festival events were around $8 per person, not per child, and my kids are pretty young for some of the activities offered. The prices are not listed on the website for Freeman’s Farm, but I tracked them down in the comments of their Facebook page. I was serious about my research! 😉

Hay rides are $2 per person, the petting zoo is free (though you can buy feed for $.25 a handful) and the food prices are extremely reasonable!

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The hayride through the farm was about 20-25 minutes long and the property was beautiful!

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After the hayride, we were hungry, so we headed over to the campfire where you could buy and roast hotdogs ($2)!

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And buy your chili in a bag ($2.50)!

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I loved the communal campfire and roasting your own hot dogs! It felt like the real deal!

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The kids enjoyed feeding the miniature horses, donkeys and goats. There was a large pig too, but he was taking a nap!

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We also got kettle corn and met up with some scarecrows! You can stuff your own scarecrow for $20 – straw and all the necessary clothing were provided!

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Pumpkins were $.39/lb and were sold in the yard outside the market. There were tons of options! At this point in our pumpkin patch journey, we already have 6 pumpkins, so I vetoed taking any more home, despite the begging by my children!

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Know Before You Go:
6142 Lewis Center Rd., Galena, OH 43021, 740-548-7866
Farm Market is open Monday – Friday: 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
The Market is open and Fall Festival Activities are Saturday : 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

*Only cash is accepted at all of the activity stands, but you can use your credit card inside the market to purchase vouchers for food and hayrides.

*When I typed “Freeman’s Farm” into Google Maps, it landed us on a dead end cul-de-sac on the other side of the farm. However, when I manually typed in the (same) address, it got us there – I don’t know if it would happen to you, but I just thought I’d mention it in case! 😉

Need more ideas for fall? Check out 9 Things to Do with Your Kids This Fall in Columbus! Happy Pumpkin Season!

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ICYMI: 9 Things to Do with Your Kids This Fall in Columbus

Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park

This summer I am on a quest to explore as many Metro Parks as we can. One crazy morning we did two! We started out at the playground at Rocky Fork and then headed to Blendon Woods. One thing about the Metro Parks here in Columbus is that they open up a totally different world. So many times we end up somewhere and find myself saying, “wow, I didn’t know this was here!” And even though you’re less than 20 miles from downtown Columbus, you can walk through the woods and all of a sudden stumble upon something that makes you feel like you’re somewhere far away. That’s how I felt at Blendon Woods!

We started out at the Nature Center . . .

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Right away, we headed straight for the back where there is a wildlife viewing room. Luckily for us, there was a wild turkey right outside the window and a squirrel doing acrobatics from the feeder! There are binoculars available for long distance viewing.

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There are a lot of mounted animals on display inside the center.

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There is a separate room where there were some activities for kids, nature books (for adults and children), more mounted animals and also live animals like fish, turtles and a snake!

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Here you could make crayon rubbings of different kinds of leaves. There were other nature activities for children and cards with animal paw prints on them to match up with the various mounted animals in the room.

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Probably the biggest hit with my kids were the “please touch” containers. Even in the Metro Parks, I’ve found the there can be a lot of “don’t touch” and “don’t walk here” situations, so the fact that my kids could freely explore interesting objects like feathers and antlers and turtle shells was a lot of fun for them!

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I pretty much had to tear them away from the “please touch” buckets and out the door, down the path toward the waterfowl refuge.

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When you get to the fork in the road, choose one of these paths . . . we ended up doing both!

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This is a must do! Here is a great example of walking down a wooded path, not knowing what to expect, and then all of a sudden being amazed at what you find. I guess I’m about to ruin that experience for you by showing you pictures 😉 but in case you’re like me and you get to this:

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. . . and you think maybe this is just some storage area or ranger station closed off to the general public, and are tempted to turn around, like I was, I’m telling you to keep going inside! And see this:

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Inside each of the two shelters, there are viewing windows, a telescope and some open-air slots for viewing wildlife and birds. It was peaceful and I could have stood there staring for quite some time. But my kids weren’t quite as patient.

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Maybe someone can tell me what kind of bird that is in the picture above? 🙂

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After we walked back down the path and to our car, we drove to one of the playgrounds. There are a couple of them and this one is on the west side by the Natural Play Area. My kids loved the wire tunnels to crawl through.

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Within walking distance of the playground is the Natural Play Area where kids can freely roam in the creek and woods, and be free to play. We didn’t make it there because this was our second Metro Park of the day, after all, and it was starting to rain. I took that as a sign that it was time to call it a day and head home for nap time!

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Blendon Woods Metro Park has a lot of free programs available to the community. Throughout the week there are preschool programs, yoga classes for adults and activities for grade schoolers. This weekend there is a treasure hunt in the Natural Play Area and a program about Monarchs. I have had varying experiences with the programs for kids at the Metro Parks, some are welcoming of younger siblings tagging along and others are not, so I would recommend giving them a call if you have any questions about attending.

Check out this map of all of the Metro Parks! I encourage you to take advantage of all our great Metro Park system has to offer!

Know Before You Go:

Blendon Woods Metro Park
Address: 4265 E. Dublin-Granville Road Westerville, OH 43081
Hours: 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM, April through September, 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM, October through March
Phone: 614-620-1861
Nature Center Phone: 614-895-6221

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ICYMI: 12 Columbus Parks to Try This Summer