U-pick farms welcome visitors with new COVID-friendly measures
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Berry season is in full swing across the Lower Mainland, and picking nature's candy is one of a few activities people can safely enjoy during the pandemic.
"We have very limited choices. This seems like a good fit for us," says Sulthan Jafferali, whose family of five arrived at a Fraser Valley strawberry field with buckets in hand on Sunday afternoon.
The owners of Maan Farms in Abbotsford say they are prepared to make the farms safe for everyone.
"Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries — they don’t wait for anyone," says operations manager, Gurlene Maan. "They don't care that there's a pandemic happening — they're growing."
She says they added hand-washing stations and additional hand sanitizers throughout the property, hired more staff to enforce physical distancing and also created an online reservation for u-pickers.
"By introducing time slots, it was a great way to be able to control how many people are using the activities in our Barnyard Adventure Land and control how many people are in the fields," she says.
Despite the fact u-picking allows visitors to space out across the fields, Maan says they haven’t seen an uptick in visitors.
"COVID has definitely affected us. People aren't likely to leave their home as much as they would have last year, so I don't think the numbers are up," she says.
But their farm offers something else that has grown in popularity: goat yoga.
They host yoga classes with the four-legged creatures roughly every two weeks. Maan says those classes have filled up quickly.
"We have had sold-out classes because people are looking for something to do and people are wanting to go outside," she says.
Those are the same reasons that brought Jonathan Ma and his children to the farm.
The kids seemed particularly enamoured by the goats in the petting zoo.
"We saw that they have a lot of kid-friendly activities, and our kids love animals," he says, adding he's also pleased to see health precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Maan encourages more people to support local farms.
"It is a great, family-fun activity to be outside and see animals and connect with nature and basically pick your own food."