Happy Apple brings families together

Daniel Little and Aly Benoit pick apples together during a family outing at the Happy Apple orchard earlier this season. Photo by Megan Miras.

Daniel Little and Aly Benoit pick apples together during a family outing at the Happy Apple orchard earlier this season. Photo by Megan Miras.

By Megan Miras.

She is the apple of my eye, and words cannot express the joy I felt watching my daughter eat an apple to the core while searching for more perfect apples.

She grinned from ear-to-ear holding her apple in one hand and steadying herself with the other while she weaved in and out of rows of trees, leaves crunching under her feet.

Fall is our favorite time of the year with it’s vibrant colors and cooling weather, which means warm sweaters, boots and cappuccinos, fallen leaves, and, of course, apple orchards.

With nearly 1500 trees and 15-20 different varieties, we certainly had our choice of apples at Happy Apple Orchard in Norwalk.

We purchased a small $6 bag; visitors can also buy a large bag for $20. We began to roam amongst the wide selection of trees picking any apples we like. Admission was free, but unfortunately there may be a fee next year, since the honor system with the bags has not worked very well at the orchard in previous years.

Before our trek through the orchard, we went to the party barn for free samples of the freshly made apple cider. They start hand-cranking to crush the apples early in the morning so it is prepared for visitors upon arrival. It is hard work but well worth the fresh taste.

Just past the party barn there is a large playground for children, complete with a circling see-saw, slide, and swings. Hay rack rides are offered for just $2.

The orchard closed down for a few years, but otherwise it has been going strong as a family business since 1970. It is run by helpful and extremely friendly couple Rick and Sue Motzko. It is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 3408 Clarke St., Norwalk, Iowa.

Sue runs the shop, which sells the cider by the jug, pre-picked apples, homemade pies, caramel apples and locally-raised honey.

Rick says that the honey is “locally raised in the Des Moines area” and that some people take a tablespoon a day to help with allergies.

Pumpkins are also sold at the apple orchard. These are not sold by the pound, but rather Rick just “eyeballs ‘em” for price.

The orchard is used for celebrations as well, including weddings, receptions, rehearsal dinners, birthdays and anniversaries.

Happy Apple has plenty of great products to offer their visitors, however the long-lasting memories are the best part about visiting. One trip is bound to turn into a family tradition after you walk through the beautiful rows of trees, hand-selecting your very own apples.

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