By Paul Burton

STOW (CBS) — Apple picking, hayrides, and kids frolicking in a maze: Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow is open for everyone to enjoy even during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been challenging, I feel very blessed that we are able to open,” general manager Chelcie Martin said. The 186-acre orchid features farm animals, hayrides, a secret maze, and of course blueberry, peach, pear, and apple picking.

Martin said they’ve been preparing for this season all year, and COVID-19 forced them to make some adjustments. “We will enforce social distancing as much we can. We have hand sanitizer stations everywhere, we’ve put in handwash stations that people can wash their hands at before they come into the orchard. We are doing hayrides at half capacity but we sanitize everything,” Martin said.

All staff and visitors must wear facemasks.

The Smith family comes here every year. “It’s a little different this year, isn’t it? But it’s a wonderful experience of just going, climbing ladders, and picking apples,” Matthew Smith said.

From now until the end of October, thousands will come through the orchid with their families.

“Given the current environment, we are taking call-in reservations so we have an idea of who will be coming any given day. We are also taking limited amounts of walk-ins,” Martin said.

The changes don’t seem to bother the many families who visited the orchid on Sunday.

“I think today the message is hope, we’re returning back to normal,” Smith said.

Martin said it’s a nice escape for families who are looking to get outside and be safe. “I know everyone is so tired of being cooped up and do really appreciate how people have been supporting us.”

Honey Top Hill Orchid will soon enter its 100th year in business.

Paul Burton

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