Looking for a fun, socially-distant outdoor activity that’s open? So are a lot of other people, which is why in the first week that pick-your-own farms have begun to sprout ripe strawberries, some are seeing a booming business.
And it’s also why some local farms are trying to control potential crowds by instituting reservation-only policies.
Starting this Friday, May 22, Butler’s Orchard in Germantown will require reservations. A day or two before you want to pick, you would go online to reserve a 90-minute slot. You can also pre-pay for a container (you can’t bring your own).
Other precautions Butler’s is taking to maintain social distancing: When you arrive, a staffer will confirm your reservation and then put wristbands and pre-paid containers in your trunk, and direct you to your field. Guests will be kept in rows six-feet apart, and have to enter and exit in a certain direction. Hand sanitizer will be available, and guests are asked to wear masks. When you’re done, your berries won’t be weighed; instead, it’s one price per container for all you can fill. (A quart costs $4.99, a half flat $19.99, and a flat $39.99, plus $3 admission per person.)
Wegmeyer Farms, which has three locations in Virginia, is also offering pick-your-own on a reservation-only basis. Slots are released the night before, and a reservation costs $24; that includes your first bucket of berries and one hour in the field per family.
While other you-pick farms may not be taking reservations, they have changed some of their standard practices. At Schlagel Farms in Waldorf, for example, the picnic tables and playground are closed—to discourage visitors from hanging out—and if too many people are on the field, you may have to wait in your car.
Before setting out to any farm, it’s a good idea to call or check their website or Facebook page, where many post updates about conditions and whether they’ve run out of berries for the day and are closing the fields early. If you’re more interested in a drive out to the country and eating fresh strawberries versus picking them, many farms offer pre-picked berries that often can be picked up outside.