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Central Coast Living: Avila apple farms see boom in business as they adapt practices

Posted at 10:33 AM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 13:33:16-04

Autumn in Avila Valley means apples and in the era of COVID-19, the age-old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," seems like an extra good reason to celebrate apple season on the Central Coast.

"It's a great year for apples. It's a strange year for everybody else, as we all know," said Jake Smith, owner of Gopher Glen Organic Apple Farm.

Smith and other local apple farmers say 2020 is yielding beautiful apples and bigger-than-usual profits with people eager to get out to places like Gopher Glen.

"Typically, San Luis Obispo is not an apple-growing region but this little microclimate up here in See Canyon has just really lent itself to apples," Smith said. "We get nice cold snaps in the winter and nice warm days in the summer, so apples love it."

Gopher Glen Apple Farm

Gopher Glen is offering 14 different apple varieties this year. Apple tastings have long been a staple of their business.

"In the past, we would have [the apples] out on a board and we would do a full tasting. This year, we're operating it a little bit differently," Smith said.

Instead, visitors are given a tray of the smallest apples to taste outside at picnic benches in front of the farm stand. Once you've decided on your favorites, you can come back inside to buy the full-size version.

Gopher Glen is open every day from 9 a.m -6 p.m. except Sundays, they open at 10 a.m. Gopher Glen is located at 2899 See Canyon Rd.

See Canyon Fruit Ranch

Up the road at See Canyon Fruit Ranch, owner Susie Kenny is also adjusting how they do apple tastings.

"You can go and get an apple out of [the bin] and try it yourself but just don't put it back, that's my joke around here," Kenny said.

She would normally host dozens of school groups for field trips during the fall months.

"So I decided if I can't [do that], I'm going to do a classroom on the wall and I cannot tell you how people have just loved the classroom, loved to learn about bees and honey," Kenny said.

Visitors are welcome to buy goodies from the barn and have a picnic on the picturesque grounds at See Canyon Fruit Ranch.

"We just here want to bring you hope. It's okay. Come on out. Join us," said Kenny.

See Canyon Fruit Ranch is open every day 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and is located at 2345 See Canyon Rd.

SLO Creek Farms

Across Highway 101 is SLO Creek Farms where you can pick flowers and apples.

The staff sanitizes the baskets and scissors so the only things you take home are healthy fruit and flowers.

Back at home, you could have an apple cider tasting - comparing the fresh-pressed and hard ciders from all three Avila Valley fruit farms with a toast to good health and happiness this fall season.

SLO Creek Farms is open every day 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. and is located at 6455 Monte Rd.

If you visit any of the Avila Valley apple farms, share your photos with #BeOnKSBY!