Pick Your Own is OPEN ♥

Yes…Local as Usual, Safer than Ever.  

Pick Your Own strawberry farms opened this past weekend. Get out there and pick the delish! There is nothing like ripe berries. So good. Each berry that comes into season is better than the last. And Pick Your Own keeps the farms that feed us in business. If you are healthy, have cash flow, and are okay with the guidelines, you can impact local business success by picking strawberries and/or future PYO crops. A win-win. 

Here are the details on new guidelines for Pick Your Own, and remember, always call ahead before you go to be sure the farm’s PYO is open that day, as well as to familiarize yourself with the farm’s COVID-19 adaptations.

Pick Your Own is allowed in both New Hampshire and Vermont, and you can search for PYO farms in the Vital Communities Guide. New Hampshire farms have best practices from the state and Vermont farms have Guidance from the state, so you can be sure farm PYO guidelines are based on the known science and rules.

What is different this year: 

  • Kids under 13 may not be allowed to pick. As Edgewater Farm says, it’s the saddest rule ever. It’s the rule in Vermont and some New Hampshire PYO will be adopting the rule. It’s just hard for kids to stay in place, and not eat …
  • You may not be able to eat on site, including during picking. A rule in Vermont, possibly adopted at New Hampshire farms.
  • To create social distance, Vermont PYO must have no more than one person per 200 square feet of picking area, and people must maintain six feet of distance. Again, New Hampshire farms are largely following this rule. You may need to wait for space to open up before you can go into the fields, so get your patience ready.
  • Wear face coverings! It’s suggested, and farms are allowed to require it.
  • Picking containers will either be your clean ones from home, disposable ones provided by the farm for you to take home, and/or farm containers that stay on-farm and are disinfected after you use them. 

Upper Valley PYO includes currants, summer raspberries and fall raspberries, blueberries, pumpkins, apples, elderberries, flowers, and more. You can be sure we will announce each crop on Instagram as it comes in. 

To read the Guidance in Vermont, click here. To read the New Hampshire best practices, click here.

Farmers Markets are Opening: What to Expect

Local as usual, and safe in new ways. Many farmers markets will be operating this summer, but it’s not business as usual! Vendors and market staff are required to follow state guidance to ensure the safest environment for shoppers and vendors alike. (See here for Vermont guidance and New Hampshire Emergency Order details). Please be patient with vendors and market staff. They are doing their best to comply with the guidance and still be able to offer local products to their communities. As the public health situation evolves over the season the rules markets must follow may change. Please be flexible as markets work to adapt.

Find an up-to-date list of open farmers markets at the Vital Communities Online Guide, and follow our Facebook and Instagram feeds for updates. Here is what you can expect at markets this season:

Everyone will be happy to see you! Despite all the changes and new rules, markets will still be the place to see smiling eyes, from a safe distance, and get fresh local products.

SNAP/EBT will still be accepted! Other forms of market currency will vary market to market.

There will be a way to pre-order products in advance, and pick them up at the market site. Check the market website/social media to learn how to order in advance. In some cases there will be a list of vendor contacts, in others an online ordering system.

Bring a face mask, and wash your hands when you get there. Vendors and market staff are required to wear protective equipment. You can help by bringing your own mask to wear while you shop. Markets will have hand washing stations or sanitizer available at the market entrance.

Vendor booths will not be self-serve. Only vendors are allowed to handle their products. You will verbally tell the vendor your choices and they will place it in a bag for you.

Most produce will be pre-bagged to limit the number of people who have handled your food. Vendors may also be packaging products and pricing them in such a way that they do not have to make change.

Prepared food, beverages, and yummy things will be sold, and may be made at the market, but will be packaged and must be consumed off-site. This includes coffee, ice cream, kettle corn, etc.

Markets will not have entertainment, activities, music, or other things that might tempt people to linger and congregate. However, keep an eye out on social media for fun kids activities and other socially distant ways to connect with your market, as many markets are planning this type of activity.

Send one person to shop whenever possible. Please leave children and pets at home if you are able to. This will help ensure social distancing and allow vendors to serve more customers.

The layout of the market will be different. Each market has worked hard to arrange a new layout that ensures safe distance between booths and between vendors and shoppers. There will be one entrance, one exit, traffic will flow one-way through the market.

Stay home if you are unwell or may have been exposed to the virus. We must protect each other during these challenging times. Send someone to the market in your place.

 

Thank you to Molly Drummond for the beautiful photos.

Trek to Taste – June 2016

The 10th Annual Trek to Taste—a celebration of local food and local trails—is scheduled for Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont. This free family event is co-sponsored by more than 30 area organizations and is one of the most popular events in the Upper Valley with over 500 people in attendance.

This year’s Trek will feature some familiar elements and introduce some new ones as well. Guided hikes will begin at the Forest Center at 10:30 a.m. Walkers of all ages are invited to join knowledgeable area guides for treks to the park’s Horse Shed Meadow (1/4mile), the Nordic Hut (1 mile) and Mount Tom’s South Peak Summit (2 miles).

Five “hubs” of activities will draw visitors through the park’s amazing trail system. Under the big tent at the Forest Center, visitors will find the Upper Valley Farm to School Network showcase, organized by Vital Communities. Area school teams will exhibit exciting projects related to local food and farms, and provide tasty food samples. Student presenters will share fruit and vegetable juices made from local ingredients, a presentation about their expanded gardens and storage crops, and how they created a cooking class for preschoolers.

ArtisTree is joining the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) at the terminus of the shortest hike, to the park’s Horse Shed Meadow, to feature kid-friendly activities including a visit with a live raptor, art activities and a smoothie bike!

The Woodstock High School and Middle School Farm to School program is preparing wood-fired pizza at the Nordic Hut, using many locally sourced ingredients cooked in the Park’s own mobile wood-fired oven. You will also find various lawn games to play as you nibble on your pizza.

Sustainable Woodstock is gathering gourmet food from area farms and establishments, providing well-deserved tastes by hikers who make it to the Summit of Mount Tom. Many activities, such as making walking sticks and a local Valley Quest guided by Vital Communities staff, will be organized for trekkers young and old. The day includes music by the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra and an ice cream social sponsored by the Billings Park Commission with homemade ice cream from the Woodstock Creamery. Learn more about this fun and tasty day at trektotaste.info.