Farms in Ontario hopeful that pick your own strawberries will happen this year
Picking your own strawberries is a time honoured tradition for many in Ontario but with the ongoing pandemic that summertime ritual may not happen this year.
"At this point we can not foresee strawberry season proceeding as usual. We are hopeful but, not very optimistic that we will be able to open up for pick your own strawberries," said Stephanie Passafuime from Applewood Farm and Winery.
"We are preparing the fields as usual and working toward the goal of opening up to the public. We will wait until the last possible moment to make a decision."
And she's not alone in her choice to wait. Several other farms blogTO spoke to said they were also waiting until closer to the season to make that call. Some are also looking to see what's happening in America as the season starts earlier.
But despite this, many are thinking of ways to still make it happen even during the pandemic.
"These are in no way set in stone [but] we may have to do timed ticketing to control the numbers of people in the field at one time and avoid the disappointment of being refused entry due to maximum capacity reached," said Leslie Forsythe from Forsythe Family Farms.
She added that they're thinking about checking temperatures of customers and staff when they get to the farm, as well as making sure people wear gloves and masks while picking.
But she stressed that on Forsythe Family Farms strawberry pick your own will be "for the harvest, not a family activity experience".
However, Darleen Downey, owner of Downey's Farm told blogTO she fully expects to have people be able to pick their own strawberries.
"Yes, we are still doing strawberry picking," she said confidently. "There will be tons of strawberry. Everything is growing. But because everything is changing daily we won't be setting out guidelines or telling consumers until about a week before."
She told blogTO that Berry Growers of Ontario are giving guidelines to their growers that will outline how to run the pick your own berries safely. What those guidelines are is still unclear.
However, even if people can't go pick their own, the berries won't go to waste.
"The farmers are still working, we're still doing everything. People need to eat, so we're here," said Downey.
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