Berry picking has been a summer tradition among Manitobans including kababayans who just love bonding with family and friends outdoors.
Back in May, farmers have expressed uncertainties on how the picking season would go this year given the COVID-19 pandemic, but they remained cautiously optimistic. After most berry farms opened their doors to pickers in mid-June, the picking season is now nearing its end.
A visit on the final stretch of the season to Cormier Berry Patch in La Salle, Manitoba on July 19 on an early rainy morning was actually a surprise. Twenty minutes after the farm opened at 8 am, a number of vehicles were already parked with around 20 more lined up to get in. Visitors also started picking berries at their designated rows.
“We actually had the same number of visitors as previous years. What was different was they all showed up earlier in the day rather than spread out throughout the day like in the past years,” owner Angie Cormier said.
Among the pickers that day were twin sisters and first time pickers, Jeree and Jelee Lagac who said that they felt safer doing an activity in an open space and far from other people, not worrying too much about catching the virus.
Like any other businesses, the province came out with COVID -19 safety protocols in Agriculture. Specific guidelines for Manitoba Berry Farms were posted on the MB government website. Main protocols still focused on strict physical distancing where a “by appointment only” visit was an option for growers to manage capacity. Pickers were also not allowed to eat berries in the field for virus transmission concerns.
Here are some kababayans who visited different farms in the province this year for berry picking.
One of them is Advincula family. “The thought that there was a pandemic didn’t really bother us because the farm that we went to had a nice system in following protocols,” Roselyn Advincula shared about their berry picking experience.
“With our COVID-19 rules, we are grateful for the respectfulness from our customers,” Angie Cormier of Cormier’s Berry Patch said.
Photo courtesy: Ron Cantiveros