8 Reasons to Visit the Pumpkin Farm and Apple Orchard this Fall

Pumpkin Farm Barrie Hill Farms

Every fall should celebrate the changing of the seasons. But in the midst of back-to-school from summer vacation, homework, and a return to being busy, families often forget. But fall shouldn’t be all about work! Take a day off and enjoy the fall season: the crisp fall air, the colours of the leaves, and of course, a trip to the farm.

There are many, many reasons to plan a visit to the pumpkin farm. Here, we’ve listed a few of our favourites, and some you may not have thought of before:

The Pumpkin Farm and Apple Orchard is Close to Home.

Pumpkin Farms and Apple Orchards are always close by in Ontario. We have a proud agricultural tradition, as one of Canada’s best farming regions. It’s especially important to plan a trip to the country, even if you’re in the city. Let the kids discover first-hand where their food comes from.

Picking Pumpkins is So Much Fun.

Even big kids enjoy carving Jack-o-Lanterns. Some people look for the biggest, bumpiest pumpkin to make the scariest Jack-o-Lantern. Others look for symmetry. The perfect pumpkin is sitting in the field, waiting for you.

Pumpkins are Good For You.

Pumpkins are tasty when roasted, and so are their seeds. Pumpkins are loaded with vitamins A, C, and potassium, and high in fibre. They are high in iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and contain 3 different carotenoids. Try roasting pumpkin by cutting it up and seasoning lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Put the ‘Thanks’ into Thanksgiving.

Whether it’s roasted pumpkin, pumpkin pie, or other delicious fall treats from the farm, such as apples, you’ll feel grateful for the harvest. Feel connected to your food source and appreciate the freshness of farm-to-table eating.

Spend the Day Outside.

Don’t spend the fall indoors. When the winter comes, you have many indoor days ahead. Get your dose of fresh air and vitamin D. The added bonus is how well you’ll sleep at night.

Stock-up on Other Festive Fall Decor.

Your Pumpkin Farm or Apple Orchard often sells perfect items to decorate your home for fall. Look for multicolour corn, hay bales, corn stalks, mums and other items to make your front porch more welcoming.

Sweets to Take Home.

Fresh apple cider, sparkling cider, and baked goods are typical finds at your local farm. Set a pot of cider on the stove and let it simmer with cinnamon sticks and cloves to add a wonderful, warm scent to your home. While you’re at it, bring home some pie and other seasonal baked goods, as well as other locally-sourced goodies such as maple syrup or honey.

Postpone the Holidays. Just a Little!

Everyone loves the Holidays so much, it’s easy to see why the Fall is overlooked in preparations for December. But may we suggest leaving it until November? Savour the wonder of fall, the joy of the harvest, and make Fall last a little longer! Eating farm-to-table and discovering the ‘roots’ of our food, makes us slow down just a little bit – and that’s a good thing.

If you’re convinced, plan to make a fall visit to the pumpkin farm and the apple orchard at Barrie Hill Farms to fully appreciate the changing seasons and the delicious taste of fresh-picked apples and get your pumpkin for Halloween.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pasta

Roasted butternut squash with pasta is the essence of fall. Use broccoli, shallots and sage and top it with toasted almonds and capers buckle up for a total combustion of flavors!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pasta

The title of this dish doesn’t do it justice because it has so much more but there are only so many words you can put into a title, right?  The beauty of this recipe is that it can be vegan, vegetarian or for meat eaters.  These days it’s important to have lots of options because people are much more aware of what’s going into their mouth.

  Keeping that in mind, when you’re aiming for healthy eating, it’s super important to include lots of fresh herbs and spices.    I find it so frustrating that people still assume that healthy food is expensive, tasteless and a whole lot of work.   In fact, if you put some thought into it, it’s just the opposite.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pasta - Barrie Hill Farms

I made this dish for Chickapea Pasta and I’m thrilled that Barrie Hill Farms carries this delicious product because I’m totally hooked.  This tastes like regular pasta with the same texture as well – and if you’re a regular reader you know I’m all about textures!  I’ve tried it in salads, with sauces, pesto and various roasted veggies and it’s scrumptious every time.

Pan Fried Sage will give your Fall dishes that extra oomph!

I was wondering what my next craving would be and it appears to be sage.  Odd, yes, and I’m curious as to where it will lead me.  It all started with this chicken dish I made last week and I have a feeling it’s headed in some interesting directions.

For this creation, I roasted the butternut squash, garlic, and broccoli with slices of shallots and sage leaves on top and the resulting flavors had me dancing in my kitchen.   I’m not one to use much salt in my recipes but I toasted some capers and almonds for a garnish and then even topped it with some pancetta – crazy AND delicious!

Pancetta on Roasted Butternut Squash with Pasta

I would have had more pancetta for the photos but I was munching on it while I was shooting and before I knew it, there were only a few pieces left, ha!

I hope you’ll try this dish and share it with me on Instagram.  Hashtag me at #simplyfreshdinners  for bragging rights.  Cheers!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pasta

Roasted butternut squash with pasta is the essence of fall. Use broccoli, shallots and sage and top it with toasted almonds and capers buckle up for a total combustion of flavors!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: roasted butternut squash with pasta
Servings: 4
Calories: 488kcal


  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp capers, dried
  • 8 ounces Chickapea Pasta penne (the spirals and shells will work also)
  • 4 ounces goat cheese (or vegan goat cheese)
  • 3 cups butternut squash, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 4-6 large sage leaves, torn
  • 2 leaves collard greens, middle stem removed, slice thinly
  • Optional: 2 -3 slices of pancetta


  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Heat olive oil in medium sized saucepan on medium-high heat. Add capers and almonds; saute until almonds are golden and capers are bursting. Remove the capers and almonds to a small dish and reserve the oil.
  • Place broccoli, squash and garlic on baking sheet. Place slices of shallots and torn sage leaves over top. Drizzle with reserved oil from caper/almond mixture. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove pan and add collard greens, return to oven and bake an additional 6-7 minutes. Remove pan and slice collard greens into thin strips.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions; reserving ¼ cup of pasta water. Drain and return to pot, adding goat cheese while still hot. Add pasta water a little bit at a time until you reach a creamy consistency. You can also add a small pat of butter or ghee if desired.
  • Add roasted vegetables to pasta and toss. Top with capers and almonds and serve.
  • Option: Cook pancetta in a separate pan for an additional topping.


Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 257mg | Potassium: 804mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 12130IU | Vitamin C: 86.6mg | Calcium: 182mg | Iron: 4.4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Follow us on Facebook for more delicious farm-fresh recipes, and updates on our growing seasons!


Recipe courtesy of Simply Fresh Dinners,  A partner with Barrie Hill Farms in bringing fresh recipes to your table.


More Squash Recipes from Barrie Hill Farms

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Soup

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Maple Glaze


When is Squash Available at Barrie Hills Farm?A calendar showing when crops are available at Barrie Hills Farm.


Roasted butternut squash with broccoli, shallots and sage is the essence of fall. When you top it with toasted almonds and capers you've gone into the stratosphere of flavour combustion! From Simply Fresh Dinners.

The Peak of Apple Picking in Ontario is September When Honeycrisp Apples are Ready

Honeycrisp Apple Picking in Ontario Barrie Hill Farms

Mid-September marks the peak of apple picking season in Ontario, with the release of a fan-favourite: Honeycrisp apples.  They are typically ready mid to late September in Ontario. As the days get cooler, apple picking is an excellent way to get outside and enjoy a crisp fall day.

What Makes Honeycrisp Apples So Delicious?

The secret to the amazing burst of flavour you get when you bite into a Honeycrisp apple is the cell size. The cells are actually twice the size of regular apples, and when you bite in, the cells rupture and release delicious sweet and tart juice. It is this difference that results in the signature Honeycrisp crunch.

Honeycrisp apples were discovered in Minnesota in the 60’s and marketed as Honeycrisp in the 90’s and quickly became one of North America’s favourite varieties. They have a relatively long shelf life, and are excellent for baking and applesauce.

Characteristics of the Honeycrisp Apple:

  • Yellow background, pink blush colour, with creamy white flesh inside
  • The sweet, tart flavour is maintained during cooking, making the Honeycrisp apple good for baking and apple sauce
  • Honeycrisp apples require cooler climates and do well in Northern States and Canada
  • They are the official state fruit of Minnesota, where they were invented
  • The Honeycrisp apple is popular in Canada, and is a favourite along with Gala and Ambrosia

Going Apple Picking in Ontario Means Getting the Freshest Apples Possible

Your local grocery store carries apples in the produce section. But you never know when your apples were picked, or how they will taste once you get them home. In fact, many apples are picked and stored for months before ever reaching your plate. This can result in a disappointing lack of taste, texture and crunch. We are so lucky to be close to our apple orchards, and to be able to feast on apples that are picked fresh. We should take advantage!

Apple picking is a great family activity and the start of a wonderful early fall tradition. Try bringing home a bushel for homemade applesauce and apple pies. You can put leftovers in the freezer to enjoy all winter long. In fact, you can even get a head start on your Thanksgiving baking by picking your apples in mid-September, and getting your holiday baking done early.

Try this Delicious Way to Enjoy Fresh-Picked Ontario Apples

This recipe lends itself perfectly to the crunchy texture of the Honeycrisp apple, but works just fine with any apple variety.

Thinly slice your apples and dress them up (just like you would for a cracker) for a tasty fall appetizer or movie-night snack:

  • crumbled goat cheese, honey and fresh rosemary
  • old cheddar cheese
  • a drizzle of maple syrup and pecans
  • peanut butter and raisins
  • soft spreadable cheese and cranberries
  • greek yogurt and rainbow sprinkles

There are so many ways to enjoy apples from Ontario apple orchards and there’s nothing like apple picking on a cool, crisp fall day. Plan to make Barrie Hill Farms your family fall tradition and go apple picking together!

Barrie Hill Farms has these apple varieties:

  • Sunrise
  • Zestar
  • McIntosh
  • Gala
  • Honeycrisp

Check here for availability.

Information on Apple Picking Season and Apple Triva

About Apple Picking Season at Barrie Hill Farms

Apple picking season begins at the end of summer just as we begin to notice the shorter days and cooler nights.  In Ontario, this is usually the end of August or beginning of September. Rather than being disappointed at the end of summer, we get to look forward to the fall harvest: apple picking, delicious apple pies, and warm apple cider.

How to Tell if Apples are Ready During Apple Picking Season

There are a few ways to tell if your apples are actually ready to pick. If you know your apples well, you can often tell by the colour and firmness. For example, pale red is perfect for a Gala apple, while yellow tinged with pink is ideal for Ambrosia apples. Apples that are ready to pick will be pale green or yellow and red.

Apples should be firm but not hard. It’s wise to avoid squeezing the fruit, you can easily bruise it. There are better ways to see if the apples are ready.  The first way is to see how an apple comes off the branch. A ripe apple will part ways with the tree easily and fall into your hand.

At the farm, you will be directed to the trees that are ready to be picked, so this makes it easy for you!

How to Select the Perfect Apple Variety

Just as not all apples taste the same, not every apple is ideal for your purpose. If you love the taste and texture of eating fresh apples, try Sunrise, Zenstar, and Gala.

McIntosh apples have a tangy flavour that holds up well in applesauce, cider, and apple pie.

One of the best apples for eating in salads is the Honeycrisp. The sweet flavour and crisp texture is delicious paired with baby spinach and blue cheese.

If you like a sweeter apple with a softer texture, try Ambrosia apples. These are very sweet and tend not to brown too quickly. They store well in the fridge for longer than many other apple varieties.

Pick Your Own Apples – Tips and Orchard Etiquette

Fortunately, today’s apple trees are easy to pick. They are often short enough for your littlest apple-picker, and apple picking is a great day out in nature with the kids.  Your farmer will likely guide you to the best rows for picking.

  1. Direct the ‘eye to the sky’ and the apple will fall easily from the branch. This means turning the bottom of the apple upwards, gently. Apples grow on ‘spurs’ that emerge from the branches. Avoid damaging the tree by pulling on these delicate stems.  [See the video, below]
  2. Hold your apples in your palm, not with your fingers. Pressure from fingers can bruise your apples, so try picking from your palm instead.
  3. Be choosy. You do not need to pick a tree clean before moving on to the next one. Only pick ripe apples and save the rest for others, later.
  4. Don’t drop the apples. Apples gently placed in baskets or bags have a better chance of holding up later on, as bruised apples tend to go bad faster.
  5. Don’t throw or waste apples. The apples are your farmer’s livelihood.
  6. You can sample the apples to determine your favourite at the farm, before you begin picking. We ask that you please eat apples after they have been paid for.

Apple Trivia

  • Contrary to popular belief, apples are not native to North America. It is commonly believed that apples originated in Kazakhstan.  The only apples that are native to North America are Crabapples.
  • Apples of each variety are clones of the original tree. Apples grown from seeds would be terrible to eat! This is done by grafting the branch of a popular apple tree onto the trunk of another.
  • Originally, apples were brought to North America, not because they make great pies. They were brought because apples were ideal for making alcoholic cider!

There are a variety of pick your own apples at Barrie Hill Farms. Click here for information.

Cheesy Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Just a quick turn in the oven gives these cheesy roasted tomatoes good caramelization, allowing the natural sweetness to blend with the hearty flavors of this delicious summer farm fresh produce.
Cheesy Roasted Tomatoes - Barrie Hill Farms
I seem to always have the problem of too many tomatoes or not enough.  This week I had too many and had to cook some up before they went bad.  I’ve roasted cherry and grape tomatoes but never large ones.  I was tempted by my favourite flavours of tomato, cheese and basil and had just enough of each ingredient to roast
Goat cheese, parmesan or mozzarella will give you terrific flavours.  These would be great as an addition to a BBQ’d meal or with some couscous or freekah.
I made a dressing of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and fresh basil and just drizzled it over the tomatoes when they were done.  The calorie count is low in this meal so you can treat yourself to some garlic bread to soak up the tomato juices.  Roasting is a great way to coax concentrated flavours from less than pristine tomatoes.  The flavours were a taste bud sensation! My new favourite dish. Cheers!

Cheesy Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Just 25 minutes in the oven gives these cheesy roasted tomatoes good caramelization, allowing the natural sweetness to blend with the natural hearty flavors of this delicious summer farm fresh produce.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Canadian
Servings: 4


  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup goated cheese or grated parmesan
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • small handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Halve the tomatoes and place on baking sheet, cut side up. I put tin foil on my sheet and sprayed it with olive oil spray to make clean up easier.
  • Drizzle the olive oil, Balsamic, salt and pepper over the tomatoes.
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes until the skins are blistered, top the halves with goat cheese and roast another 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, put the dressing ingredients into your food processor and pulse until the basil is finely chopped.
  • Remove from the oven and place a basil leaf on each tomato and drizzle with dressing.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Follow us on Facebook for more delicious farm-fresh recipes, and updates on our growing seasons!

Recipe courtesy of Simply Fresh Dinners,  A partner with Barrie Hill Farms in bringing fresh recipes to your table.

More Tomato Recipes from Barrie Hill Farms

Risotta Stuffed Tomatoes

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Asparagus Tomato Salad with Feta


When are Tomatoes Available at Barrie Hills Farm?

A calendar showing when crops are available at Barrie Hills Farm.