Family, Food, Shopping, Travel

Pick-your-own fun is still possible

Dwight Miller Orchards, East Dummerston, Vt. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo

What to know before you go …

Before heading out to a local orchard or farm for an afternoon packed with “pick-your-own” fun, there are a few things you should know.

COVID-19 has changed how pick-your-own farms and orchards are operating. You might need to make reservations to participate at some locations, while some orchards and farms might opt out altogether. Orchards always have pre-picked bushels and pecks of apples for you to choose from. Many farms also offer pre-picked pumpkins at their farm stands and stores.

And don’t be disappointed if your favorite farm isn’t offering hayrides or corn mazes this year. Farms in Massachusetts and Vermont still are allowed to provide some “agritainment,” but safety regulations, such as social distancing requirements, might cause them to cancel wagon rides or other close-proximity festivities. As always, we suggest calling ahead.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Feeling sick? Stay home.

Customers who are feeling ill, have a fever or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to refrain from visiting a farm or orchard.

Wash your hands

Multiple sanitizing and hand-washing stations for customer use are required. Farms are required to frequently sanitize touched surfaces, objects and tools.

Wear your mask

In Massachusetts, masks/face coverings are a must for employees and customers at all times. Guidance issued by the state requires all customers over the age of 2 to wear their masks while on the farm/orchard, especially in the harvest area. Masks must cover the mouth and nose, regardless of the proximity/absence of another individual or family group.

In Vermont, face masks/coverings are required in all public spaces anytime it is not possible to say 6 feet away from people not from your household. Farms and orchards can require that masks/face coverings be worn at all times. Masks must cover the mouth and nose.

The 6-foot rule still applies

Regardless of whether you are in the orchard or the pumpkin field, Massachusetts and Vermont have maintained that 6 feet of social distance must be kept between unrelated groups and individuals. Most farms are requiring parents to keep children at arm’s reach.

To maintain social distancing requirements, farms are required to reduce the number of people in the field/orchard at one time. This will require farms to restrict and change the flow of customers in the field, so, watch for signage. The reduction in number also might require preregistration and customers to remain in their cars while waiting to enter the harvest area.

Leave your own containers at home

Single-use containers/bags or sanitized reusable containers are required in both states. In Massachusetts, all containers must be supplied by the farm. Vermont does allow consumers to bring sterilized containers if the farm allows it.

Sampling is forbidden

On-site consumption of food — eating or sampling fruit in the fields and orchards, or after the harvest — is not permitted by either state. That also means pie-eating contests and free samples are canceled.

Restrooms and cash payments might not be available

Both states are encouraging farms and orchards to prioritize cashless and touchless payments. Restrooms might be unavailable, depending on the venue.

PICK-YOUR-OWN APPLES

Windy Hill Farm, Great Barrington, Mass. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

While most orchards will have apples ready for harvest by Labor Day, if not before, we strongly encourage readers to call ahead or check online before heading out to your favorite orchard or farm this year.

In the Berkshires

Bartlett’s Apple Orchard

575 Swamp Road, Richmond
413-698-2559; bartlettsorchard.com

Hilltop Orchards and Furnace Brook Winery

508 Canaan Road, Richmond
413-445-1259; hilltoporchards.com

Jaeschke’s Orchard

23 Gould Road, Adams
413-743-3896; jaeschkesorchard.com

Lakeview Orchard

94 Old Cheshire Road, Lanesborough
413-448-6009; lakevieworchard.com

Riiska Brook Orchard

101 New Hartford Road, Sandisfield
413-258-4761; riiskabrookorchard.com

Windy Hill Farm

686 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington
413-298-3217; windyhillfarminc.com

In Southern Vermont

Cortland Hill Orchard

72 Miller Road, West Brattleboro
802-254-9779; facebook.com/Cortland-Hill- Orchard-1715196975454457

Dwight Miller Orchards

511 Miller Road, East Dummerston
802-254-9111; facebook.com/dwightmillerorchards

Green Mountain Orchards

130 W. Hill Road, Putney
802-387-5851; greenmountainorchards.com

Harlowe’s Sugar House

556 Bellows Falls Road, Putney
802-387-5832; facebook.com/Harlows-Sugar-House-112054582190889

Mad Tom Orchard

2615 Mad Tom Road, East Dorset
802-366-8107; madtomorchard.com

Scott Farm & Orchard – Landmark Trust USA

707 Kipling Road, Dummerston
802-254-6868; scottfarmvermont.com

PICK-YOUR-OWN PUMPKINS

Whitney’s Farm Market & Country Gardens, Cheshire, Mass.

Want to pick your own pumpkin? A majority of the places on this list have pre-picked the pumpkins but have left them in the field for you to claim as your own. We suggest that you call ahead or visit their websites before you head out to find the perfect pumpkin to carve.

In the Berkshires

Howden Farm

303 Rannapo Road, Sheffield
413-229-8481; howdenfarm.com

Ioka Valley Farm

3475 Hancock Road (Route 43) Hancock
413-738-5915; Iokavalleyfarm.com

Mountain View Farm

45 Old Cheshire Road, Lanesborough
(413) 770-6595; facebook.com/mtnviewfarm1

Riiska Brook Orchard

101 New Hartford Road, Sandisfield
413-258-4761; riiskabrookorchard.com

Whitney’s Farm Market & Country Gardens

1775 S. State Road (Route 8), Cheshire
413-442-4749; whitneysfarm.com

In Southern Vermont

Equinox Valley Nursery

Route 7A, Manchester
802-362-2610; equinoxvalleynursery.com

Green Mountain Orchards

130 W. Hill Road, Putney
802-387-5851; greenmountainorchards.com

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