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Minneapolis' 'Urban Orchard' Lets Folks Pick Unique Apples For Free

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Be it SweeTango or Honeycrisp, certain apples make their way into every Minnesota orchard.

But Sheila Mitchell also wanted something different.

"I came from an apple background. I had a big orchard down in Jordan, Minnesota," Mitchell said.

She already had the unusual setting, in the heart of Minneapolis, just feet from Lake of the isles. It is called "Urban Orchard."

"This is city property here," she said.

When it came to choosing apple varieties, the well-known would not do.

"They're in the grocery stores, so it's more fun to grow something we can't go to the store and buy," Mitchell said.

The orchard's 20 trees feature fruit most have never tasted.

"It's a Mutsu tree, and Mutsu is a cross between I believe an Indo and a Golden Delicious," she said. "This is a Northwest Greening, it's a very old-fashioned apple,"

But it is the harvest that makes this orchard unique.

"We just ask everybody to wait until they're ripe and then they can share them," Mitchell said.

Posted signs make this fruit forbidden until October, when Mitchell gives them away for free.

"I make big pots of caramel and I serve caramel apples in a dish, and we play the polka music and we make little cookies for the kids, and it's for a whole family fun morning," Mitchell said.

Neighbor Ashlesha Madhok loves living near this unique orchard.

"I think that's great that you can get to try something else that grows in Minnesota that you don't even know existed," Madhok said.

Mitchell is reaping the fruits of her labor, while giving it all away.

"It's nice to be able to share that moment," she said. "That's the really fun part about having this area."

The free apple picking takes place this Saturday along West Lake of the Isles Parkway.

It begins at 9 a.m., and Mitchell says the apples go quickly.

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