HILLSDALE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The cool, crisp air means apple-picking season is here. But, fall festivities are altered this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday was an exciting day for cousins Devon and Gavin. The pair were picking the perfect apples with their moms at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale.

“Perfect fall activity,” Jodi McCord of Cresskill told CBS 2’s Jenna DeAngelis.

And, a fall tradition the pandemic isn’t getting in the way of for this family.

“There are definitely places you don’t feel safe going into but this doesn’t seem to be one of them. I think they’re doing everything right,” said McCord. “They are making it very safe and secure for everyone.”


The farm is 34 acres, 20 of which are the orchard, so there’s plenty of space to stay socially distant and pick your favorite apples.

“Right here we got a beautiful crop of Liberty apples,” said co-owner James Spollen.

Spollen walking CBS2 through the new way of apple picking, which starts with making an online reservation.

“We limited it to about 400 people for every hour and a half,” said Spollen.

That is about half the number of visitors pre-pandemic.

“What are some of the things we won’t see this year,” asked DeAngelis.

RECIPE: Demarest Farms Apple Pound Cake (.pdf)

“Unfortunately, we have a haunted orchard at night in the month of October. We won’t be doing that,” said Spollen.

“No more hay rides?” asked DeAngelis.

“Not for the time being, no,” said Spollen.

When you visit, you’ll drive straight up to pick your apples. Hand-washing stations are available.

“You’re not going to touch anything else except for the apple or the bag that it’s going in that we supply you with. So we’re kind of strict with that. We don’t want any cross-contamination,” said Spollen.

The farm market is open to pick up pre-packaged foods, sweets and produce.

Even though business is down, Spollen said, “When you’re a farmer, it’s a livelihood. It’s not a job, that’s the first thing. So just being able to watch people’s faces as they pick the apples, or pick the peaches and enjoy themselves, that’s a good feeling.”

Being able to carry on a fall tradition, which despite being different, tastes and feels just as sweet.

Demarest Farms is open until Christmas. The owners said they still plan to hold the Christmas lights show “Orchard of Lights.”

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