McDougal • Orchards

Covid 19 in 2020

Corn Maze Covid Sucks

Well, besides the pandemic our season ended early. The earliest it ever ended. We closed the orchards for picking at the end of September. A light crop, heavy June drop, the extreme drought and many loyal customers added up to a shortened season. We closed the Farm Store on October 11. We hope 2021 is better, all around.

For those of you that visited this year we made a number of changes due to the pandemic.

We sold pick your own apples by volume rather than weight this year. This cut down on contact between customers and employees. In order to sell the bags in each orchard it required extending WiFi and using a hotspot. We feel it worked flawlessly.

We tried our best to limit customers to 5 in the Farm Store and one person/family in the Donut Shack. We had hand wash stations in both orchards, the farm store and outside the donut shack. We had large maps in each orchard to help guide you to the varieties that were ready for picking. We also had to hire a few more employees and numerous other costs associated with COVID 19 sanitation protocols.

Probably the most confusing of all was “RESERVATIONS” required. We only required reservations on weekends. We clarified it further that reservations were only required on Saturday and Sunday. and further clarified it that reservations were not required to pick raspberries, go to the farm store or the donut shack. We learned we had to be more specific. One glitch was that not everyone received a confirmation email. This lead to numerous double bookings, phone calls and emails. If you came anytime Monday through Friday you did NOT need a reservation to pick apples.

So why the reservation requirement? On busy weekends there can be hundreds of customers on the property. Parking in both orchards can be close to capacity and this doesn’t include cars parked by Fairy Village and by the barn. At times there can be 10 plus cars waiting to check out and possibly blocking cars trying to get in. By selling bags in the orchard we solved the outgoing traffic problem.

Our priority this year was to keep everyone safe and healthy. If we limit the number of cars that means less people and the ability to socially distance. The reservation system worked. We had a lot more customers show up during the week. Although this could have been due to customers looking for something to do during the week as schools were either in remote learning or a hybrid model.

On one busy weekend we turned away a good number of cars. Most people understood why we were requiring reservations but a few were not happy about it. They could still pick raspberries, go to the farm store, the donut shack or they could wait around if there were open time slots later.

We did not do wagon rides this year and we took the swings down including the single swing in the black walnut tree. Did you see the new Pergola over the patio outside the donut shack? We hope to have something growing up and on it next year.

We have received a number of comments to thank us for the changes we made to protect them and their family, including the reservation requirement.

How will next apple season look? Let’s hope there is a vaccine and COVID cases are at an all time low. We will be discussing how this season went and talk about next season.

Thank you to those of you who visited us this year. We hope to see you next year and Thank You for supporting local agriculture.

Please stay safe, wash your hands, stay 6 feet apart and wear a mask.

We would love to hear any good/bad comments about this years Pick Your Own season here.

PS. the picture above is this years corn maze.