I love watching local businesses grow, and it is truly my pleasure to watch Lakeland Orchard & Cidery flourish in front of my eyes. Last year, I met with Jeff Roba (second-generation owner of Roba Farm operations) during the sunflower season. He showed me around and informed me about the family’s past and plans for the future.
This year, we caught up during the zinnia season, and I got to witness how everything already materialized. I was impressed! What makes this farm stand apart from similar businesses is superb craftsmanship and attention to detail. You will not find any shortcuts there.
You can take a better look at the flowers from this observation deck at Lakeland Orchard & Cidery.
Let’s start with the basics and clear the confusion. Lakeland Orchard & Cidery and Roba Family Farms are two different operations at two different locations, both owned by the Roba family. Roba Family Farms (230 Decker Rd. North Abington Twp., PA 18414) is open to the public during the fall season with rides, pumpkins, corn maze, and even pig races!.
This year it will open its doors on Friday, September 18, and will remain open until Sunday, November 1, 2020. In this post, we are going to concentrate on Lakeland Orchard & Cidery, where a summer season is already in full swing.
History of Roba Family
In 1984, John Roba purchased a 52-acre dairy farm in North Abington Township, a few miles north of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to fulfill his dream of owning a Christmas tree farm. The first trees were planted in 1985, and the farm opened for “choose and cut” retail sales in December of 1990.
In 1993, Roba Family Farms began selling pumpkins, hoping this “side business” would help promote Christmas tree sales. This marketing move paid off beyond expectations. The pumpkin patch quickly became so popular, it soon took over nearly the entire original 52-acre farm. T
o this day, the original farm is dominated by fall fun and harvest activities and is a major destination for locals as well as out of state visitors.
But the pumping success did not reroute John Roba from his Christmas tree dream. In 1999, the family bought a 196-acre farm in Scott Township, where they have been growing Christmas trees ever since. The Lakeland Farm has been open on the weekends in December for retail Christmas tree sales since 2007. The Scott Township farm is now also the location of Lakeland Orchard & Cidery.
Roba’s family new generation adds a new spin to the business.
The three children of John and Sue Roba grew up on the farm and are no strangers to hard work. These days, they contribute their modern-day education to the further development of the family business. Apart from continuous investment into new projects, they keep the public well informed about new exciting events through a well-designed website and a very active Facebook page.
Lakeland Orchard & Cidery – a humble beginning
In the spring of 2012, the first crop of high density, trellised apple trees were planted at the Orchard. A year later, the location opened in the fall for ‘Pick Your Own’ apples. From that humble beginning, the Orchard quadrupled its size, and today it grows more than 30 different kinds of apples spread across 20,000 trees.
1649 Lakeland Drive
Scott Township, PA 18433
Phone: (570) 254-6038
Masks are mandatory
When purchasing tickets, you need to agree that you will be wearing a mask when visiting the Orchard. But do not worry, no one will hunt you if you are away from other people and do not wear one. Just keep it handy.
When I visited, for the most part, there was no need to wear a face covering. But of course, you will be required to it for the rides. To make visitors feel safer, all staff are wearing masks all the time.
Cashless only transactions in 2020
To provide an efficient and safe way for guests to make purchases at the Orchard, the farm is accepting debit cards, credit cards, Apple Pay, and Lakeland Orchard & Cidery gift cards (loaded with cash at admissions).
If you come with cash, you will have the option to load it to a Lakeland Orchard & Cidery gift card to utilize throughout your visit. If you have a remaining balance at the end of your visit, you can redeem on future visits. There is no minimum or maximum amount that you can add to your gift card.
You can purchase your entry tickets online only.
During our 2020 season, all tickets must be purchased online. The day pass tickets will be date and time-specific to limit attendance. Purchase your tickets here.
Picnic tables and benches are spaced far apart.
The picnic tables are a good distance apart, and so are the benched throughout the grounds. You can easily follow social distancing guidelines.
Everywhere you turn, there are handwashing stations with soap and hot water, plus hand sanitizers. Each picnic table is cleaned with an alcohol-based disinfectant, and that includes seats. Porta potties are also within an easy reach – very clean, and provide handwashing stations.
Hard cider is sold with food only.
Following recent Pennsylvania guidelines, the Orchard sells the hard cider with food only. But do not worry, you do not need to keep eating if you are thirsty for more. I had three solid glasses of cider with just one hamburger. I went with the medium sweetness, and it was just right for my taste. You can buy a sampler to check what suits you.
Old fashion family fun
I love to see that the Roba family puts its pride in what it builds and delivers. It would be so much easier, and probably more profitable, to develop a cheap carnivals style entertainment with inflatable toys, darts, etc.
Instead, children get to enjoy bouncing on a giant bouncing pumpkin, riding an old fashion carousel or Cow Train Express, watching animals play, and of course, wandering among flowers, trees, and vegetables.
Children love the carousel at Lakeland Orchard & Cidery. You may not see it clearly, but everyone is wearing a mask, and kids have no problems with that at all.
The food at Lakeland Orchard & Cidery
I find the food to be on an expensive side but in my opinion worth the money. The hamburger I had was delicious, and it came with lots of fries. You can also buy hot dogs and BBQ, precels, and ice cream.
Events at Lakeland Orchard & Cidery
August 1 – August 30
Thursday – Sunday (10AM – 6PM)
If you love flowers, you cannot miss this event! Zinnias are absolutely breathtaking, all three acres of them- each one a nature miracle on its own and together just a stunning carpet of beauty. You can cut one bloom for free or buy more if you wish. Other attractions include The Country Carousel, Cow Train Express, Pumpkin Bounce, and even Axe Throwing!
You can also relax listening to live music while sipping a refreshing hard cider! In August, there are no apples yet, but there are several veggies ripe for picking – included in your entry ticket! A bag is provided. I concentrated on tomatoes. There were delicious!
You can feed your eyes and your soul among stunning zinnias at Lakeland Orchard & Cidery.
September 3 – October 12
Thursday – Sunday (10am – 6pm)
Plus Labor Day and Columbus Day!
The Sunflower Season is in full bloom from the beginning of September into mid-October. Get ready to explore the 3 acres of sunflowers. Come and ‘Cut Your Own’ Sunflowers. The Weekend Admission includes one free bloom, but you are welcome to purchase a bucket of blooms. Plus, included with festival admission is a 1⁄4 Peck of ‘Pick Your Own’ Apples!
What you will find at Orchard is not just typical rows of yellows sunflowers, but also a large variety of multicolored more delicate flowers reaching hight to the sky. They will steal your heart!
Flowering Kale Season – New in 2020
I am very excited about this one since it will be a new experience for me. Quote from the website, “Unlike your typical edible kale, flowering kale is bred with an emphasis on unique forms and colors, rather than flavor. These beautiful flowers produce long-lasting rosettes of wavy-to-frilly leaves in colors not commonly seen in their more edible counterparts.
Typically, stems will be anywhere from 24-36″ long with a 6″ head. While most flowers die at the first sign of frost, these flowers actually do not get their color until the first frost of the season, making them a great, late fall flower. Flowering kale will pair exceptionally well with any late-surviving sunflowers in a bouquet!
Come out this October and see for yourself how beautiful this unique flower is! ”