Since apples offer numerous health benefits and can be used in a variety of dishes, many communities naturally like to plant the trees that produce them. However, apple orchards are also popular places to relax or socialize; their generous canopies supply beauty and shade in addition to tasty fruit. No wonder you’re curious about visiting them!
If you’re a tourist or horticulture enthusiast traveling in the Upper Midwest region of the United States, perhaps you’re wondering where to find these orchards. Fortunately, you don’t have to look any further than this list below to see what apple orchards in North Dakota are most worthy of your time!
1. Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society
First on my list of best apple orchards in North Dakota is the Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society. Run by a board of experienced and educated professionals, it aims to nurture greater understanding and appreciation of horticulture in Fargo and surrounding areas. They feature nine breathtaking gardens, including an orchard that they call the Edible Forest.
You can wander around the Edible Forest sampling not only apples, but apricots, peaches, cherries, and other fruits that grow natively in North Dakota. At the same time, the staff can teach you how sustainable fruit production works and why it’s important. When you’re done, you can check out any of their other eight magnificent gardens.
If you’ve got a big event coming up, the Edible Forest would be a beautiful place to host it. Imagine organizing themed tables or activities with certain groups of fruit trees!
2. Orchard Glen Park
In its path through Fargo, the Red River provides an ideal setting for Orchard Glen Park, a stunning community park where you’ll find one of the most popular apple orchards in North Dakota. Boasting playgrounds alongside diverse wildlife and plant species, it’s an idyllic spot to read, relax, have a picnic, or take photographs with easy access to apple trees. Hikers may enjoy the 1.2-mile loop as well.
There are also pears, plums, and cherries! In fact, you can follow a handy online map to find every fruit you’re interested in trying.
3. World Garden, Growing Together Community Garden
The World Garden, another favorite on my list of best apple orchards in North Dakota, started off with the simple desire to provide work and food security for Fargo’s refugee population in 2005. By now, it has expanded to eight locations across the city. In addition to thriving apple orchards, you’ll find healthy vegetable gardens. Much of the food ends up donated to charity.
Volunteer caretakers and interns meet for two to three hours per week to take care of the gardens and orchards, and you can join them if you sign up as a volunteer as well. It could be a great opportunity to make connections and build friendships. Also, once you’ve put in at least 16 hours of work, you’re eligible to take some of the fruits and vegetables home!
4. Oxbow Orchards & Nursery
Nestled in the Grafton fields, the Oxbow Orchards & Nursery is among the only apple orchards in North Dakota that isn’t mixed with other fruits or vegetables. This is a small, family-owned and operated orchard that prides itself on a wide selection of apples. Although you can’t pick directly from the apple trees yourself, you can buy young apple trees to plant on your own property.
The orchard offers beautifully tranquil scenery to enjoy while you purchase apples and trees to your heart’s content. However, the owners also attend local farmers’ markets in case you want their products without driving out to the country.
5. Cottonwood Farm
Fifth on my list of best apple orchards in North Dakota is Cottonwood Farm. Travelers who like both apples and alcohol may find this orchard appealing. Besides the distinction of being one of the few family-run apple orchards in North Dakota, this farm specializes in creating hard cider from their diverse species of apple trees. In fact, their cider house is the first in North Dakota’s history.
Perhaps the only activity more pleasant than viewing a magnificent orchard would be to do it with a tasty hard cider in your hand. You can order the cider online to enjoy at home as well. Visit their fields in the fall if you’d also like to grab some pumpkins or other kinds of squash!
6. West Fargo Community Orchards
If you’re not in the mood for wandering around any large gardens or orchards, consider the West Fargo Community Orchards. Scattered throughout the city of West Fargo, these orchards are created and maintained by a partnership between the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and West Fargo Forestry Division. Each one is small and concentrated to serve its neighborhood.
Since they’re meant to promote edible landscaping and help people eat healthier, the orchards feature various fruits in addition to apples. Pears, plums, and cherries are common, but you can also find hazelnuts, honeyberries, apricots, and more. No matter where you go in the city, you’ll be close enough to an orchard to try at least one of these foods.
7. Angelic Gardens
Last but not least on my list of best apple orchards in North Dakota is Angelic Gardens. It’s the only apple orchard on this list that isn’t in Red River Valley, but it is unique for other reasons, too. Located in Minot and boasting over five acres of walkable fruit and vegetable gardens, the orchard is a gem of the Drift Prairie region. You are encouraged to pick your own apples and any other freshly grown foods that strike your fancy.
Wondering what to do after you’ve eaten your fill of juicy apples? Take a walk through the Victorian gardens as well, or go for a wagon ride. There’s even custom sewing and alterations available for many kinds of clothing. If you enjoy your time there, consider scheduling a private event!
How are Apple Orchards Maintained?
No matter your preference of apple orchards in North Dakota, they all require the same degree of care and attention. Without expert nurturing, there would be no orchards to visit or fruit to enjoy. To fully appreciate them, keep in mind the work that goes into their maintenance.
Spring is usually the best season to plant an apple tree. The surrounding soil must have a reliable drainage or irrigation system so that it stays moist without drowning the roots. There must also be ample clear and empty air space to allow the leaves to dry quickly and avoid fungal growth after rainfall. In an orchard, each tree must grow at least 15 inches apart from one another, lest they get tangled or cramped together.
Young trees tend to bend or break easily in windy weather or under heavy precipitation. For at least the first one or two years of life, they may need to be tied to posts or trellises to stay upright and develop strong trunks.
As with all plants, apple trees attract a variety of pests, though the specific pests may depend on the species of apple. A competent orchardist must know which pests to target for each tree, then spray pesticides during the right window of time—generally between the first petal drop and the first harvest. However, they must take care not to kill bees with the pesticides; pollination is crucial to tree growth.
Each tree needs water every seven to ten days. However, the orchardist should apply mulch only once a year, and the layer shouldn’t exceed four to six inches in height to avoid suffocating the roots. Straw-based mulch works best for apples.
Trees only need pruning in their dormant period; for apple varieties, that’s typically late winter. In dormancy, the tree is focused on surviving cold weather, so it will heal better when its branches are cut to get rid of dead or diseased parts and improve airflow.
No matter the time of year, the orchardist should watch for signs of diseases after wet weather so that the tree can receive treatment immediately. The most diseases affecting apple orchards in North Dakota include apple scabs and fireblight.
These are just the basic maintenance requirements. Every tree and orchard may have additional unique needs, and they often require daily attention. With consistent and diligent care, the trees will start bearing fruit about eight to ten years after planting.
Harvesting season usually lasts from August to October. Once picked, the apples go into storage in a cool and dark area with plenty of ventilation to prevent premature rotting.
Find the Best of Apple Orchards in North Dakota!
The apple orchards in North Dakota continue centuries’ worth of tradition in growing and appreciating everything this fruit can offer. Whether you just want to pick your own apples while soaking in your surroundings, assist with planting and maintenance, or just buy a bushel, North Dakota has an orchard to suit your preferences.
Excited for more apple content? Visit my apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, and more!