McDougal Orchards is a diversified seventh generation family farm in Southern Maine specializing in the production of high quality apples for sale to pick-your-own, farm stand, Sanford Farmers’ Market and local wholesale customers. Located just a mile from downtown Sanford, McDougal Orchard's scenic location and proximity to the beaches and lakes of York County make it an extremely desirable day-trip location in the summer and fall. Customers pass through the dooryard of the historic farmhouse on their way to pick apples in the orchards behind the house, or stop to buy ready-picked fruit in the barns salesroom. Capt. Jack's usually making fresh cider donuts out in the Shack, as well! There are a few farm animals out back, a picnic area, a fairy village, and a corn maze for kids of all ages to enjoy. There are Miles of trails through the property for an energetic hike or leisurely stroll.
Ellen and Jack met in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Jack was the Second Officer on the NOAA Ship Delaware II and Ellen was a Lieutenant in the NOAA Corps and assistant Port Captain. Yes, a “Shipboard Romance”. They were married in 1984 at the Springvale First Baptist Church with a reception at the old “Potting Shed” and resided in Falmouth, MA.
Ellen eventually got out of the NOAA Corps and in 1989 they decided to move to the Farm. Jack continued to sail out of Woods Hole for NOAA working his way up to becoming Captain. Ellen had always wanted to be back on the farm and started learning the apple business with her Dad. Jack and Ellen bought the Farm House from her folks who built a new home two houses down the road.
Her brother Evan came back to the business in 1995. In 2005 (the start of cider donuts) Jack took a shore side job with NOAA and had an office at UNH in Durham. He retired in 2009 and at that time Evan decided he wanted to sell his shares in the business.
Starting in 2010 Ellen and Jack took over the business.
Continue to provide our customers with quality fruit and produce grown on the farm. We also want to provide our customers with a healthy environment just a few miles from downtown Sanford. A gorgeous farm setting with miles of hiking and walking trails. A place to relax and soak in the beauty by yourself or with your family and/or friends.
We meet parents every year who bring their family here to pick apples and these same parents came here when they were just kids. At times we have three generations of a family here. As one customer commented “The orchard is in the business of making memories.” We love to hear this and hope to continue making memories for our customers.
We are always thinking about how we can improve the experience here. Please let us know if you have any ideas.
You will notice that we do not charge any fees to come onto our property. The Hay Ride, Corn Maze, Fairy Village, Farm Animal area or just to have a picnic here are all free. All of these activities do cost us money to operate or maintain. The cost of course is reflected in our prices.
Many argitainment farmers and speakers at Marketing Conventions have stated that “if you allow people on your property you need to be charging them an admission fee”. In 2010 we struggled with the idea of charging an admission fee. Finally we decided that logistically it would not be feasible for us to do this fairly. The state of the economy at that time also figured into our decision.
A number of local families bring their children to the farm to see the farm animals, milking goats, hay rides, corn maze or just play on the swing set. They do not spend any money because they do not have much. Our hope is that one day their economic situation will improve and they will come back to the farm and spend a few dollars here.
When you go out there to pick your apples do you sample a few? We encourage people to do this so they find the apples they want. Again we lose a few dollars on this but we feel it brings people back because they are satisfied getting exactly what they want.
Not only do we accept cash but we accept local checks, major credit cards and EBT/SNAP and WIC Vouchers.
We feel that the way we operate is the best for our customers. You can use any bag or container you want. Make sure we weigh your containers first or you will be paying for that weight also. We also have bags for free. We encourage people to use their own bags. We haven’t found the right reusable bag for apple picking yet but we continue to look.
Please stop at the barn during the week to ask for directions. We have a list of apple varieties that we feel are ready for picking. We have the same varieties in each of the two orchards. So where you picked last week may be picked out this week.
“YOU” can pick any variety that you want except in restricted areas. You can pick as many pounds of apples that you want. You can mix the varieties in the same bag. All PYO apples are the same price. Stone fruits (peaches and nectarines) are priced differently so please do not mix them in with apples.
We do have maps in each orchard (and barn salesroom) that tell you what variety each row of trees has in it. We do mark the end of rows to make finding them easier.
We open as soon as the first apple is ready for picking. From that day forth we are open 9:00am to 5:00pm, 7 days a week until the end of October or early November.
Usually the last two weekends in September and the first two in October are the busiest weekends. On these weekends it is recommended that you get here early. On these busy weekends the line of cars waiting to get in and the line waiting to pay and leave can get long. You can always send the kids in to get fresh apple cider donuts and drinks while you wait!
If rain is predicted for one of the weekend days and the other day is predicted to be nice everyone comes on the nicer of the two days. We have families that come dressed in rain gear and boots on rainy days to pick apples.
On busy weekends we have at least one and some days two cashiers by the road exit. We usually have two cashiers in the barn salesroom. This year we plan to have three cashiers in the salesroom. We are constantly thinking of ways to speed up the check out process. So if you have an idea please share it with us.
We are considered a conventional orchard because we use synthetic pesticides. When you hear the word “organic” do you think “they do not spray pesticides”? There are organic pesticides out there that are used on various crops. We also use organic pesticides. A pesticide is an insecticide, herbicide or fungicide.
The “House Field” Orchard is right next to our house. We raised two children in this house. So we are very careful and concerned about what we spray on our apples. All of us are in good health and we intend to stay that way. Ellen and another bee keeper have a dozen bee hives across the road. We do not want to cause any damage to the bees or other beneficials that share our orchards. We do not want to harm our family either.
We practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
You may spot some of the IPM traps in the orchard. A red sphere hanging in a tree on the outside of the orchard is used by the IPM scout. When a threshold is reached we have to spray. Pesticides cost money as does the tractor, fuel, the sprayer, and the operator. We do not want to be spraying any more than we have to.
The whitish film you may find on some apples is called bloom. You should always shine your apple before eating.