Peach picking at Richland orchard looks different during the pandemic
Peach picking opens to the public on Saturday
Donut peaches are ready for picking but orchards are enacting new health protocol to keep visitors safe.
Ray French Orchards in Richland is inviting the public to pick peaches starting Saturday. The family owned business grows a variety of peaches, apples, nectarines and cherries. They already added some guidelines to keep pickers safe when they opened the orchard for cherries earlier this year.
“They would drive up and a staff member would stop them to let them know the rules,” owner Sandra French said, “and we had a lot of cars all the time waiting to come through to pick. Cherries did very well for us this year.”
As cars enter the orchard staff limit how many can go through at one time.
“We have some patient customers,” said said,”We rarely have a grumpy customer.”
Everyone is also encouraged to bring their own container for collecting peaches. Instead of sanitizing and resanitizing buckets for visitors, they can bring a box, basket, or some kind of sturdy bin to take their peaches home. Staff will weigh containers so visitors aren’t charged for the extra weight.
“If people forget a container we will have paper sacks,” French said, “But you want somethnig sturdy so your peaches won’t get smashed or they will be moosh by the time you get home.”
Masks aren’t required while visitors are picking because they will be seperated by rows. Staff will be wearing masks throughout the orchard and at the weighing station. Trees are short enough visitors don’t have to worry about climbing ladders to pick the fresh fruit.
The Ray French Orchard has been in operation through two generations. Ray French’s son Robin and his wife Sandra run and operate the orchard today. Sandra says it’s a lot of work but there are several perks of running the orchard.
“It’s so relaxing to be out there in the trees,” she said, “The whole family loves it and we definitely like that family friendly atmosphere.”
The owners do ask families to leave their pets at home though. No pets are allowed in the orchard so they will have to stay in your vehichle while you are picking. With temperatures in the 90’s staff also encourage visitors to bring water.
The orchard is open from 9 am to 5 pm everyday except Sunday. It’s located at 921 Harvest Lane in Richland. For updated information on picking and varieties, go to their Facebook page or give them a call at (509) 627-3673.