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Vermont Pick-Your-Own Farms Operate with Updated Health and Safety Guidance

September 15, 2020 | Montpelier, VT – With Vermont’s apple season in full swing, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) yesterday officially released updated guidance directing pick-your-own (PYO) operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance, developed with the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), seeks to protect the health and safety of patrons, staff and communities while allowing visitors to enjoy the tradition of visiting rural Vermont farms and farming operations.

Pick-Your-Own farms provide local access to fresh, quality food and contribute to the fabric of their communities. “The tradition of visiting our Vermont farms is part of our state identity. Vermont’s farming families grow their food to feed their families, friends and communities, and we need to support them during this time of uncertainty,” said Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Agriculture Secretary. “I encourage all to visit their local family farm and safely enjoy the fruits of their labor!”

The updated Pick-Your-Own Restart Plan reflects recent changes to the statewide mandatory health and safety requirements described in the Phased Restart Work Safe Guidance. VAAFM is regularly evaluating COVID-19 guidance and will continue to make science-based decisions to support farms and food businesses navigating these challenging times.

Among other requirements, the PYO Restart Plan requires employees and customers in the harvest area to practice social distancing and follow all related safety requirements. To limit in-person contact and the risk of contamination, the on-site consumption of food—including crops being picked—is not allowed in a PYO operation area. In addition, customers are not permitted to congregate on site before, during, or after picking.

To read the full guidance document, visit: agriculture.vermont.gov/document/pick-your-own-restart-plan .

For additional information on the PYO Restart Plan and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, please visit: agriculture.vermont.gov/covid-19-information/covid-19-sector-guidance-news/sector-guidance-pick-your-own-restart-plan

For questions please contact VAAFM at: agr.COVIDresponse@vermont.gov or 802-585-6225.