Warwick orchard lays claim to pick-it-yourself business model

Posted: Updated:
WARWICK -

Apple picking season is in full swing, including one of the oldest orchards doing business in Warwick.

Masker Orchards attracts thousands of families wanting to experience a taste of fall, with 15 varieties of apples to choose from.

George Vurno, or "Apple George" as he's known locally, says he and his business partner pioneered the "pick your own" idea for apple orchards.

"I said, 'you know, maybe we could set aside a third of the orchard next year and advertise in New York City,'" says Vurno.

MORE: Apple picking guide

That idea came to mind in 1970, and Vurno says the response was overwhelming in the second-largest apple-producing state in the country.

This year's apple crop is expected to be a good one -- the New York Apples Association is predicting growers will produce 31 million cartons of apples.

Business aside, Vurno says the best thing about owning an orchard is the families he invites in.

"I'm a people person, I love to talk to them," says Vurno. "I love to meet them, everybody's my friend."

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