LTH Home

Royal Oak Farm Orchard, Harvard, IL - apples, peaches, pears

Royal Oak Farm Orchard, Harvard, IL - apples, peaches, pears
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
  • Royal Oak Farm Orchard, Harvard, IL - apples, peaches, pears

    Post #1 - November 7th, 2004, 4:45 pm
    Post #1 - November 7th, 2004, 4:45 pm Post #1 - November 7th, 2004, 4:45 pm
    In the last 10 years, collecting apples has been getting a bit depressing. Bell's Orchards succumbed to ills of their own making. Even before they lost it all, they were slowly carving pieces of their orchard away for home developments. Another large orchard west of Libertyville closed last year, sold all their land for development. Every year I have to go a little further to get my 2-3 bushels of apples I need. I think thanks to Jlawrence I have found a new orchard, which will be around for some time to come. Yesterday, I drove 55 miles north and west to Royal Oak Farm in Harvard, Illinois.

    Royal Oak Farm is only 12 years old and opened to the public 7 years ago. They planted 1,000 apple trees this year and plan to plant an additional 1,000 trees next year. They plant disease resistant apple trees, then use integrated pest management to minimize the use of pesticides. The trees I saw were of smallish stature to make them easy to pick from and minimize injuries. This is a very well thought out orchard using cutting edge information to maximize yield and minimize maintenance.

    As of yesterday, they still had trees available for picking apples. These are not cheap apples, they were $36 per bushel. I bought utility apples that were either dinged or thrown to the ground before collecting at $9 per half bushel. Immediately, one bushel (half Empire/half Gala) is going to applesauce. The rest will be eaten directly or made into pies over the next few weeks.

    The orchard also has u-pick raspberries in mid-July, peaches in early August and pumpkins and gourds beginning in early September. Peach trees are not really recommended for this region because their bloom time is in the period where frost can still occur. Maybe they found a variety which blossoms in a sequence workable for this region. I cannot wait to do that next August.

    They make pies on the premises, including the crust. I chatted up the ladies to learn they make 6 piecrusts at a time. Their dough is flour, Crisco, salt, water, an egg and vinegar. I'm still puzzling over the addition of vinegar, which the lady admitted she does not use at home. I noticed the apples in their pies had collapsed quite a bit while cooking because the crust was higher than the pies filling. I inquired what they used, because I wanted to avoid using it myself. They use whatever apples come for the orchard and mix them. From the varieties available that day, I will guess they used a Gala.

    They have a small cafeteria with food, which seems more made on the premises than from an institution. Since I already had lunch, I split a slice of Pecan Pie and Apple Slice with Cream Cheese Frosting with my Mom. Usually, apple slices have a confectioner's sugar glaze, so the cream cheese was an improvement.

    They have a play area for the children and gift shop for bigger people. A retail barn where you can purchase pre-picked fruits or arrange to pick them yourselves.

    Ironically, to me anyway, the owner was a home developer before he started the orchard. He bought plenty of land to allow for expansion and plans to keep it as an orchard. The large lovely home behind the active commercial area appears to be the owners.

    The owners observe the Sabbath, so they are closed on Sunday.

    Please note they were selling apple wood useful for smoking in $5 bundles. Each bundle had roughly 5 logs about 2 feet long and 3-5 inches in diameter. They may not always be available, however it is a source.

    Royal Oak Farm Orchard
    15908 Hebron Road
    Harvard, IL
    Tel: 815/648-4141
    www.royaloakfarmorchard.com
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #2 - November 7th, 2004, 9:56 pm
    Post #2 - November 7th, 2004, 9:56 pm Post #2 - November 7th, 2004, 9:56 pm
    To reiterate, they are CLOSED on Sunday.

    They have a playground and a lot of family activities while they are open. However, you have to get there on Saturday as the entire facility is chained shut on Sunday.

    I haven't been there in a few years as I get most of my apples from Michigan through my local independent markets out here in the boonies. (g)

    Where that orchard is at will be immune from development for years as Hebron or Harvard are long commutes even for those of us working in McHenry Co.
  • Post #3 - November 8th, 2004, 12:47 pm
    Post #3 - November 8th, 2004, 12:47 pm Post #3 - November 8th, 2004, 12:47 pm
    jlawrence01 has also helped me out this weekend on apples, but mine was apple pies. He told me about a place he eats at ALOT, called Around The Clock Restaurant in Crystal Lake and also makes great pies. It's always my turn to bring desserts for family dinners that are out that way . Who would think there isn't a Bakers Square down Randall Road since it's chain city, then I rembered ATC , what a great family place. when you walk in there's a good size glass case with all kinds of pies and cakes and cookies , everything looked wonderful and fresh. the apple pie had a beautiful crust with apple and leaves cut outs of dough on top. And I also had to get a chocolate pie with fresh whip cream and cherries on top. The apple pie was filled with so many layers of beautiful slices of apples . The apples tasted like they were just picked. It was the best apple pie I ever had, everyone loved it and was screaming at me where the ice cream was. The chocolate pie was more like a pudding pie, very rich and thick and very very good. the apple was $9.95 and the chocolate was $10.95. And of course they are open around the clock. I'm sorry bakers square, you just lost a customer. Thank you jlawrence01 and my family thanks you since I am the one that always brings desserts. Have any other tips for me out that way? www.aroundtheclockrestaurant.com
  • Post #4 - November 8th, 2004, 1:05 pm
    Post #4 - November 8th, 2004, 1:05 pm Post #4 - November 8th, 2004, 1:05 pm
    Hi,

    When you go to their website, check out the bakery. Just at a glance, I could tell the pies were hand made. They have even won best of show at the McHenry County Fair. Through jlawrence, you have found something very rare indeed, a restaurant which makes its' own pies.

    Now I have a better idea what I am in for, I am walking into pie territory. On July 2nd at 1 PM, I am giving a talk on the history of pies at the McHenry County Historical Society. On the 10th, they are having a pie competition, which I will return to help judge. I wonder if this restaurant will participate in the competition?

    I might just find a convenient reason to get to Around the Clock very soon.

    Thanks for the report.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - November 8th, 2004, 2:15 pm
    Post #5 - November 8th, 2004, 2:15 pm Post #5 - November 8th, 2004, 2:15 pm
    I am pinching myself ... and am almost embarrassed.

    There is a Baker's Square on Rt. 14 near WalMart. I have never eaten there as I think the pies are a LOT better than the rest of the food.

    I have been eating at home a lot as I am really tired of eating out. I have done my Fall 2004 world tour - Ottawa, Nebraska, Western Louisiana, Houston, Las Vegas, Reno, etc. With the deals that I am scoring at Woodmans and my other places, I have been staying at home. (And considering where my weight is, I need to avoid restaurants.)

    Here are my recommendations:

    Upscale:

    1776
    Porters
    Walleye Grill in Huntley
    Avoid the Harvest Moon In Woodstock

    Moderate:

    Siri Thai III
    Crandall's in Hebron
    Richard Walker's
    Tacos del Norte (Algonquin only)
    Dos Hermanos in Wauconda
    Chinese Gourmet Restaurant in Algonquin
    Round The Clock (I have always avoided mentioning the place as I was eating there 5x per week)

    All restaurants are in Crystal Lake unless otherwide noted
  • Post #6 - November 8th, 2004, 2:17 pm
    Post #6 - November 8th, 2004, 2:17 pm Post #6 - November 8th, 2004, 2:17 pm
    At the risk of being drawn and quartered, Sam's Club makes a wicked Caramel Apple Pie in their store.

    Also, Gordon's Food Service has some pretty good frozen pies if you need to go that way.
  • Post #7 - November 8th, 2004, 2:48 pm
    Post #7 - November 8th, 2004, 2:48 pm Post #7 - November 8th, 2004, 2:48 pm
    I'm sorry, I wouldn't even think about getting a caramel apple pie from Sams after I saw the beautiful homemade caramel pie at Around The Clock. Thank you for the suggestions .and I won't be needing Bakers Square address any longer. I also heard the Crystal Lake Rib House has great rib tips and chicken wings. I will be heading up there soon for tips, wings and apple pie. Sounds like a great afternoon to me. Thank you again.
  • Post #8 - November 10th, 2004, 1:29 am
    Post #8 - November 10th, 2004, 1:29 am Post #8 - November 10th, 2004, 1:29 am
    Two comments.

    I should have included the Crystal Lake Rib House on my restaurant list as I work across the street from it and can see it from my office window. I do not eat there very often as their seating is very limited at lunchtime. The food is very good and a real step up from that place in Algonquin.

    As for Round the Clock, they have your typical Greek diner style food and specials served with soup and vegetables. Nothing earthshattering but always something good. However, periodically, they come up with something absolutely devine. They have a Mexican catfish fish that they serve over beans and rice that is spectacular. They also serve a chicken mango salad that is great. They draw a good crowd.

    As for the baked goods, they have a bakery in the basement. I find that there baked goods are among the best in Crystal Lake. That's not saying much as the only bakery in town just closed (and given their quality and selection, it was no loss).

    Three months ago, I finally tried the Village Squire which is across from Round the Clock. The food was pretty good but nothing really special. The food is no better than Round the Clock ... but the average meal is $3-4 more.
  • Post #9 - June 1st, 2005, 10:25 pm
    Post #9 - June 1st, 2005, 10:25 pm Post #9 - June 1st, 2005, 10:25 pm
    I was looking for somewhere to go with the kids after the Illinois Railway Museum which was NOT the diner at the museum, and came across this thread and JLawrence's comments in particular. Pie! Of course I would go to a place that had homemade pie! No need to even look further.

    So there we were, at the Around the Clock in Crystal Lake, which I must say was hopping on a Sunday afternoon. Our lunch was perfectly decent Greek diner food, serviceable rather than memorable. But then came the pie-- triple berry, and Dutch apple. Liam couldn't wait for me to take the damn picture:

    Image

    Both were quite good. And went really quick.

    Image

    So thanks, JLawrence. Driving through Crystal Lake and that area, I have to say one thing I spotted was a lot of little pizza places, seemingly owned by actual Italian-Americans to judge by the names, some possibly even dating back far enough to fall under the Mike G Pizza Rule (always try a pizza place that's been around for 30 years, it's possible that haven't Dominoized their old recipe yet). Have you tried many of these places? Any faves?
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #10 - June 2nd, 2005, 10:22 am
    Post #10 - June 2nd, 2005, 10:22 am Post #10 - June 2nd, 2005, 10:22 am
    Several points:

    1) In the moderate price range, Round the Clock is about as good as it gets. The food is generally very good. The menu on Sundays, to me, seems pretty lacking. During the week, they have better specials than on Sunday.

    RTC has also experienced a LOT of employee turnover as have most of the Crystal Lake businesses have.

    I have not posted much on RTC as I am a regular - 81 meals there last year. They know me by name and therefore, they tend to treat me better than the average bear.

    2) I have not been all that impressed with the CL pizzerias. The only one that really does much for me is Georgio's in the CL Square near the train station. The pizza there is pretty good. Rosati's and Papa Sevarios (which is in the Lake in the Hills area) doesn't do very much for me.
    Last edited by jlawrence01 on June 2nd, 2005, 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #11 - June 2nd, 2005, 4:08 pm
    Post #11 - June 2nd, 2005, 4:08 pm Post #11 - June 2nd, 2005, 4:08 pm
    I don't know if there should be a full-blown new thread on the subject (which seems to have progressed nicely from apple orchards to pies to pizzas!), but I wanted to at least mention American Pie at 1024 McHenry Ave. in Crystal Lake as my fave (at least when I'm not making my own), maybe because they seem more east coast style than others in the vicinity.

    Even though I had a nice big lunch, I'm getting hongrified just thinking about their pies...
  • Post #12 - June 2nd, 2005, 5:32 pm
    Post #12 - June 2nd, 2005, 5:32 pm Post #12 - June 2nd, 2005, 5:32 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:I have not posted much on RTC as I am a regular - 81 meals there last year.


    That's quite an impressive number. How do you keep track? :) I'm not sure I'd like to know how many times I've dropped $10 on lunch at, say, the goddess and the grocer.

    -ed
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #13 - June 2nd, 2005, 10:04 pm
    Post #13 - June 2nd, 2005, 10:04 pm Post #13 - June 2nd, 2005, 10:04 pm
    gleam wrote:That's quite an impressive number. How do you keep track? :) I'm not sure I'd like to know how many times I've dropped $10 on lunch at, say, the goddess and the grocer.

    -ed


    I always use a credit card to pay for a meal. Why? So that I can remember the name of the place which comes in helpful a year down the road when the trip is only a memory.

    Each year, Chase provides a year-end summary of all your spending by category. We use it a bit for budgeting although you have to wait until April to get at it.

    81 times was far too many late dinners (g).
  • Post #14 - June 2nd, 2005, 10:09 pm
    Post #14 - June 2nd, 2005, 10:09 pm Post #14 - June 2nd, 2005, 10:09 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:
    gleam wrote:That's quite an impressive number. How do you keep track? :) I'm not sure I'd like to know how many times I've dropped $10 on lunch at, say, the goddess and the grocer.

    -ed


    I always use a credit card to pay for a meal. Why? So that I can remember the name of the place which comes in helpful a year down the road when the trip is only a memory.

    Each year, Chase provides a year-end summary of all your spending by category. We use it a bit for budgeting although you have to wait until April to get at it.

    81 times was far too many late dinners (g).


    That explains it :) That's an awful lot of visits.

    By the way, Chase allows you to get exports of your charges, including category, online, if you're signed up for that.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #15 - October 4th, 2008, 2:54 pm
    Post #15 - October 4th, 2008, 2:54 pm Post #15 - October 4th, 2008, 2:54 pm
    Hi,

    I drove out to the farms today to get Roma tomatoes, cabbage for sauerkraut and a few other odds and ends. I was on a tight schedule, though I made time to collect MOM2 for a bit of an outting. As I drove into her neighborhood, it was immediately apparent there had been a frost with ice crystals visible in the shade.

    Von Bergen's in Hebron reported it was a deep frost with a bit of crop damage. They said if it does not occur again tonight, then there is a chance to extend their growing period. I bought 27 pounds of Roma tomatoes for $12., a huge cauliflower for $3, and a lug of Concord grapes for $27. They had 10 pound pails of frozen sour cherries on sale for $18, but I already had one. I wished them well and if I didn't come back this season, then I will see them next year.

    MOM2 and I then proceeded to Royal Oak Farm with plans to buy apples and have breakfast. As I drove in the gate, there were signs advising a $3. fee to visit on Saturdays and holiday weekends, free Monday-Friday. I commented to MOM2 if they really expected us to pay $3, then I proposed we go somewhere else. They really did expect this $3 and it would not be discounted toward any purchase, so I left. I saw the owner, waved hello and turned the car around.

    If I had stayed, I would have likely spent around $20 for breakfast, which I did in Richmond. I might have impulsively bought half to a full bushel of apples, which is at least $20. In the end, they got nothing. Not the smartest busines move witnessed recently.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #16 - October 4th, 2008, 2:59 pm
    Post #16 - October 4th, 2008, 2:59 pm Post #16 - October 4th, 2008, 2:59 pm
    It seems to be a trend; I wonder what is happening that is driving the entrance-fee (other than that people will pay it)
  • Post #17 - October 5th, 2008, 12:51 pm
    Post #17 - October 5th, 2008, 12:51 pm Post #17 - October 5th, 2008, 12:51 pm
    Are they particularly crowded on weekends, and use it as a way to keep crowds to manageable levels?
  • Post #18 - October 5th, 2008, 5:25 pm
    Post #18 - October 5th, 2008, 5:25 pm Post #18 - October 5th, 2008, 5:25 pm
    nr706 wrote:Are they particularly crowded on weekends, and use it as a way to keep crowds to manageable levels?


    I'm sure that is the thought. I didn't see anyone else turn around except me, though I was very happy to be forced to find a more than acceptable breakfast somewhere else. I also spent my $40+ elsewhere, too. I wonder what is more profitable to them: $3 visitor's fee or the net profit from $40 of dining and fruit purchased. If it is structured right, then they took a potential loss far more by my leaving than the $3 'convenience fee' that turned me off.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #19 - October 13th, 2008, 12:21 pm
    Post #19 - October 13th, 2008, 12:21 pm Post #19 - October 13th, 2008, 12:21 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:MOM2 and I then proceeded to Royal Oak Farm with plans to buy apples and have breakfast. As I drove in the gate, there were signs advising a $3. fee to visit on Saturdays and holiday weekends, free Monday-Friday. I commented to MOM2 if they really expected us to pay $3, then I proposed we go somewhere else. They really did expect this $3 and it would not be discounted toward any purchase, so I left. I saw the owner, waved hello and turned the car around. Regards,


    You weren't the ONLY one to turn around. I turned around last year when they started that stupid policy. (And I thought I had mentioned it to you last year.)

    The new cafe in Hebron at the stop light has homemade pies that are as good as Royal Oak and they don't charge a fee.

    Generally, I don't go to the place for the apples. I know enough of the local orchard owners where I can get all the apples I need for dirt cheap. I do like the place for breakfast. But I am not paying $3 to eat breakfast. I don't even go there when it is off-season anymore.
  • Post #20 - August 11th, 2009, 8:44 am
    Post #20 - August 11th, 2009, 8:44 am Post #20 - August 11th, 2009, 8:44 am
    Wow, we are very sorry we had to begin charging an admission fee on Saturdays. We would have rather not had to do that, but due to the dramatic increase in fuel prices, we felt that it would be necessary to increase prices to cover those additional fuel expenses or we would not make our budget for the season. Rather than increase prices all over the orchard, we decided to institute the admission fee on Saturdays and holidays so that on a per person basis, a 4 member family would only be paying  75 cents per person more instead of paying more for everything that they may purchase.  We decided not to charge for the free use of the playground, petting zoo, free concerts or wagons rides to pick apples in the orchard. 
     
    We are also trying to get more customers to come during the week so our Saturday's are not so crowded.  We also do not know who is only eating breakfast or shopping in the Market and who may be staying all day or part of the day and it would not be fair to charge some people the admission fee and not charge others. Our admission fee attendants are told to treat everyone the same to make it fair for all. We do offer a $5.00 season pass for those who come more than one Saturday so they do not have to pay the $3.00 fee each and every Saturday.
     
    Since all of you folks have been very loyal customers over the years,  please contact me at dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com and give me your mailing address and I will mail you the season pass.
  • Post #21 - September 12th, 2015, 7:10 am
    Post #21 - September 12th, 2015, 7:10 am Post #21 - September 12th, 2015, 7:10 am
    Hi,

    I visited Royal Oak Farm for the first time in a few years. I learned they have suspended the parking fees, so you can now buy your apples without paying for parking.

    This is a you-pick farm, though you can buy picked and wild-blown as well. I buy wind-blown apples for making apple sauce.

    They are closed on Sundays.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more