CAZENOVIA, N.Y. (NCC News) – It’s been a disappointing fall for farms in Central New York, with a hard frost last spring taking a toll on this year’s apple-picking season.
Patrick Allen, co-owner and manager of Critz Farms in Cazenovia, said the combination of that unprecedented spring frost and a generally rainy fall present a combined challenge he has never seen before.
“We had a near total apple crop loss…about a 95% loss. And along with the apples themselves we lose all the business that come at the beginning of the fall festival to pick apples,” he said. “It was beyond repair.”
Critz Farms’ annual fall harvest festival, which runs every weekend from Labor Day until Halloween, was impacted by the loss of apple picking, a fall Central New York staple. However, the farm has diversified into more than just crops since his step-father bought the land in 1985.
“That’s kind of been our story is evolving by necessity and diversifying as we go,” Allen said.
Some of the farm’s offerings in its diversification are ciders for adults, playgrounds and hay rides for kids, and fresh food made right on site.
While this year’s fall harvest festival was hindered by the loss of apples, the farm’s other offerings picked up the slack. As Halloween got closer, foot traffic increased due to both the farm’s pumpkin patch and some unexpected warm October days.
Allen said he values the welcoming family environment of the farm the most, and people looking for a good time and family fun are what has been keeping the farm and business steady through a lackluster fall.
“I have a three-year-old so I enjoy it a lot more now…and [seeing] the joy of the kids’ faces,” he said.
As fall winds down, Critz Farms is beginning to shift its focus toward preparing for winter and eventually spring. Even as foot traffic has picked back up, Allen and the farm are hoping for a good maple season to complete its rebound after an unprecedented fall.