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Strawberry picking in New York: What the PYO season will look like this summer

Expect some changes.

Written by
Danielle Valente

Nothing is sweeter in the summertime than fresh berries. 

The pick-your-own season is fast approaching, and families are not only anxious to spend time outdoors, but to snag delicious strawberries, blueberries and peaches. However, in light of the difficult few months we've had, there will be some changes in place at your favorite farms. 

Here's what to expect:

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued guidelines, and many venues are complying with these regulations as well as federal rules. Visitors can expect the typical protocol that they'd find in local stores—plexiglass installations, touch-less purchasing, etc—but social distancing rules will also be put in place when guests head out to gather their produce in the fields.  

Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, New York, will now operate strictly by reservations for pick-your-own activities. This is for a maximum of five people per reservation for up to one hour. (Slots are available from Tuesday–Sunday from 9am to 4:45pm, which is subject to change depending on the crops.)

Upon arrival, families will have a specific place to park and must wear a mask and wash their hands before entering the field. They'll be given pre-purchased picking package. Pets will not be allowed on the grounds, nor will snacking in the fields.  

"While our farm store will remain closed, orders for groceries and other farm store goods such as our doughnuts and pies can be placed online for pickup when visitors have finished picking or can they be placed independently of a PYO reservation," says Katie Ross, the farm's marketing communications and events manager. "We will be taking orders Tuesday-Sunday as well."

Greig Farm in Red Hook, New York will enforce similar restrictions for PYO fun. Although a reservation system is not in place as of yet, it is something that will be considered depending on how the season unfolds. As of now, guests will be assigned designated picking areas on the field and they will not be able to deviate from their allotted spots. 

When they're out selecting their fruits, they'll be required to wear masks when near other pickers. Guests will also be encouraged to use a credit card or Apple Pay to limit contact when making purchases. 

Although these typical seasonal traditions will look a little different in 2020, we're still anxious to participate in the fun when it is safe to do so. After all, what's summer without a slice of homemade strawberry pie?

What to do before planning a PYO outing: 

  • Call your local farm ahead of time and ask about reservations and procedures 
  • Inquire about cleaning practices 
  • Bring your masks and other necessary hygiene products 
  • Review the rules with your children 
  • Stay home if you are sick

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