MIDDLEFIELD — Apple picking, a favorite fall activity, has gone largely unaffected by the pandemic.
On a recent weekday, visitors to Lyman Orchards said they still got the full picking experience.
Christina Hallinan, of Cheshire, said she’s been visiting Lyman Orchards on and off since she was young. She was at the orchards with her son Benjamin, 5.
“It's a nice fall activity,” she said. “There's not too many people here so it's safe.”
After picking, the pair planned to visit the Apple Barrel store and then see if they could find some ducks at the lake near the store.
The family fun drew the Malsons all the way from Newtown. Dave and Bridget Malson were with their son Adam, 2.
After picking, the family planned to have donuts and cider from the Apple Barrel and maybe try the corn maze. This year’s maze theme is a thank you to frontline workers.
The Malsons said they would normally use some of the apples for baking — like they did with peaches from Lyman Orchards earlier in the season — however, they may not have time before they move out of state this week.
“We'll either eat them on the ride or get some caramel apple dipping sauce or something,” Bridget Malson said.
The family had been to pick-your-own orchards closer to home but prefer Lyman’s less structured setup, which still felt safe.
“Some of the places we went to in Newtown you have to wear the mask even while you're picking, but it’s nice here that if you social distance yourself you don't have to wear it,” Malson said.
John Lyman, Lyman Orchards executive vice president, said masks should be worn at all times unless social distancing is possible in the orchards. Because the trees are spread out, he said it’s easier for people to stay far enough apart. Masks are required in the Apple Barrel and maze at all times.
In general, Lyman Orchards' approach to coronavirus safety has been to spread distance and time between customers. They limit the number of people allowed in the orchards, maze, and store and encourage people to visit throughout the week instead of just on the weekends.
He said the number of people coming to pick has increased this year, likely due to people wanting to stay outdoors during the pandemic.
Tents will be used so customers can buy popular store items outdoors instead of waiting in line inside.
Lyman said apples will probably be available until the end of October. People may notice more dropped fruit under the trees due to the recent storms, he said.
“The apple crop looks good, most varieties are on the smaller side being off a dry season,” Lyman said.
Rogers Orchards in Southington is open for pick-your-own apples from Friday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather dependent.
At both Rogers and Lyman, customers pay in advance for a bag size and must wear a mask unless social distancing. People should use hand sanitizer regularly and stay home if feeling sick.
Pick-your-own at Lyman Orchards is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather dependent.