Guidelines released for opening U-pick farms

The Delaware Department of Agriculture issued guidance to help U-pick farms safely open to the public May 20. They include mask requirements for all customers 13 years old and above and prohibit people from bringing containers to the farm.

Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse said many family farms start to open U-pick businesses when strawberry season starts.

“These farms provide residents an opportunity to actively connect with where their food is grown,” Scuse said. “With the public’s concern about finding food during the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe farms will see increased U-pick participation as households look to freeze, can, and put up food to enjoy the rest of the year.”

Throughout the late spring and fall, Delaware’s U-pick farms are open to people to pick their own strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, pumpkins, live Christmas trees and more. DDA recommends that residents call ahead to confirm that the farm is offering U-pick this season and to set up an appointment to go to the farm. Each farm needs to confirm there is adequate space in the field for social distancing at any given time.

All customers 13 years and older are required to wear face coverings or they will be denied entry. Face coverings are recommended for children ages 2-12. Anyone coming to the farm to pick produce will be required to sanitize their hands before and after going into the field. Picking containers from home will not be permitted.

Anyone who is sick with any of the following symptoms must stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste. Other symptoms, such as headache or digestive symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or lack of appetite), are potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation.

Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or has symptoms of illness, may not go out in public. Older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions, including serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions like moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised like people who have had cancer treatment, may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture wants to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the community, so anyone who is sick, has been exposed or is at higher risk for severe illness should stay home and should not go visit U-Pick farms.

For more, visit https://de.gov/buylocal.