A few bad apples take advantage of orchards’ autumn treat in Little Compton

EastBayRI.com ·

You have heard of jewel thieves, car thieves and horse thieves, but apple heists?

That is just what’s been happening in Little Compton at Young Family Farm.

Since the farm was founded in 1997 by Tyler and Karla Young, the family has sold bags to customers to pick and fill with apples from their beautiful apple orchard and farm on West Main Road.

But in recent years, it became evident that a few bad apples were taking advantage.

“We had a group of apple pickers whom we have watched over the last few years. We knew they were stealing, but we couldn’t figure out how they were doing it, so the staff and I set up different areas where we kept an eye on them and we figured out how they did it,” said Karla Young.

The culprits would come in often to buy a bag and fill it with apples. They would bring the bag back to their car, dump it into a cooler and then head back out to refill the bag. This would occur over and over until they filled their cooler.

“They only picked one kind. They were picking Honey Crisp, a higher end apple on the market,” she said. And they’ve taken so many that there are suspicions the apples are being re-sold someplace else.

“So we were watching them and they have their system and this time I stopped them. I said, Here are my rules. You can only pick what fits in your bag. What doesn’t fit in the bag, has to be paid for at the stand.”

“I thought we could pick as much as we wanted,” one replied.

Well you can, but you have to pay for what doesn’t fit into the bag,” said Ms. Young.

“My husband Tyler called the police. The police thought that they had actually stolen the apples. But I had stopped them (the pickers) mid-stream, because I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt,” said Mrs. Young. 

 

A new plan

Due to the incidents, the farm now gives out apple picking bags to customers and weighs the contents after picking.

“You can pick as much as you want and we will weigh it. If it’s over a bushel then you pay for over a bushel. Part of it is the experience of being on a farm. I want them (the customers) to enjoy it. I didn’t want to come out and have to police it. So changing it, I think it made the situation better for everybody,” said Ms. Young.

“One gentleman who has picked with us for years came in and asked why we changed our system. I had to tell him, that unfortunately we changed it because there was one bad apple in the group,” she said.

 

Other orchards in the area have had different experiences with their customers.

Noquochoke Orchard in Westport does not allow picking. They have a roadside stand on Drift Road where they sell their apples and other products.

Gregory Wetzel of Old Stone Orchard in Little Compton does allow apple picking and said that they have been fortunate when it comes to thievery.

“Towards the end of our season when we have other work to do, we sell apples on the honor system,” he said. We leave out pre-weighed bags of apples and customers come and take what they want and put the money in a box,” he said.

Honey Crisp apples are one of our top sellers. Everyone comes in asking for the Honey Crisps,” he said.

“All of our customers have been very respectful. They love coming here. We have had families that have been coming here for years and years. They come for the experience of picking the apples. They bring their kids and they come and see the animals. We just got goats this year,” he said. Adding, “That’s unfortunate that is happening.

Squash heist

Elsewhere in Little Compton last week, a Simmons Road resident reported that cash and some squash had been taken from an honor stand in front of his home.

 

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