If apple picking is one of your favourite fall activities, then same. Few things scream autumn quite like throwing on some warm clothes, heading out to the orchard with your friends, picking apples, and drinking apple cider and munching on apple cider doughnuts before making the trip home. But things are obviously a bit different this year because of COVID-19. While much of the US shut down for months, things are slowly opening again, yet nothing is what we'd call "normal." The same can be said for farms and orchards that host guests for apple picking every year.
This year, farms are under CDC guidelines for safety, which largely involves requiring employees to follow precautionary measures, due to the fact that they're handling food. Even though when you go apple picking you quite literally pick the apples from the trees yourself, there are still farm employees who have been there for the past few months ensuring that the trees were ready to go for you.
Because apple orchards largely operate under a "you pick" program that allows you into the orchard to find your own apples, you typically don't have to interact with very many people. Some orchards, like Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, NY, are using a reservation schedule this year to limit how many people will be on the property at one time, which will allow for social distancing while still enjoying the fall activity. This orchard in particular is also requiring guests to wear masks, which is in line with New York's COVID-19 guidelines.
"Usually we see a spike in entry around 11 a.m.-2 p.m., so by having customers reserve times, we are hoping to even out the flow of customer traffic and allow for social distancing," Katie Ross, who works for Fishkill Farms, told POPSUGAR. "Right now, customers are given an hour to pick each fruit they purchase a reservation for. We are going to remove the time limit for apple season and see how that feels." She also noted that they're modifying the layout of the farm store and property to make it more open air, which will make for a more safe experience to social distance.
Bellewood Farms in Lynwood, WA, is also modifying the apple-picking schedule for Fall. Eric Abel, who works at the farm, said they plan to open the farm for longer hours than they have in the past, including some weekdays. They'll also be turning their indoor seating area at the farm into a more indoor-outdoor experience by opening the building's large glass doors. He's hopeful, though, that this apple season will be just as enjoyable as years past. "We're gonna have a great time because people love going out to the orchard to have a farm experience," he told POPSUGAR.
Check in with your favourite nearby orchard to see how it's handling the upcoming apple season before making the trip. Some orchards have adjusted their schedules, some are doing reservations only, and some are just doing curbside pickup (which takes a little bit of the fun out, but at least you still get your fresh apples!). Apple picking might look a little different than usual this year, but we think it can be fun all the same.