The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but as businesses begin opening back up around the country, it’s important to keep the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum. That’s why, as farmer’s markets and pick-your-own farms begin to open for strawberry season, the Virginia Department of Agriculture has released a guidance to help consumers and businesses prevent the spread of disease.
Virginia Department of Agriculture Guidance
Some recommendations the Department of Ag has given for consumers include:
- Cover coughs and sneezes and wash hands frequently
- Sanitize your hands before picking or purchasing
- Call ahead before visiting
Some recommendations the Department of Ag has given for businesses include:
- Update social media to include your expectations for consumers at your farm/stand
- Offer pre-boxed or pre-bagged items
- Provide hand sanitizer stations for employees and customers
- Provide single-use baskets or bags
- Ensure employees handling money sanitize their hands between transactions
- Ensure employees don’t show signs of illness
While consumers should be vigilant, it is important to support local farmers and businesses to stimulate the economy. Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, encourages Virginia residents to participate in strawberry picking this season, stating that “strawberry lovers and health-conscious consumers [should] support their local producers and Virginia’s economy by purchasing fresh, Virginia grown strawberries from a nearby farm, farmers’ market, roadside stand or grocery store.”
If you don’t feel comfortable attending farmer’s markets or pick-your-own farms quite yet but don’t want to miss out on strawberry season, consider growing your own strawberries.
If you live in zone six, plant your strawberries in the spring (between mid-March and mid-April), and if you live in zone seven, plant between December and early April. The window for planting strawberries has closed for this area, but there are options for late planting. Try using banging baskets or planting strawberries in a greenhouse.
The best strawberry varieties for May planting include Everbearing and Day Neutral strawberries, as their growing seasons are longer than that of June Bearing strawberries.