Updated April 29, 2020 - 5:16 pm
When Gilcrease Orchard opened for the season April 23, it was about a month later than usual, said Mark Ruben, orchard manager, because of cool weather in early spring.
“And so they can practice social distancing and get it all down before they come to visit us,” he quipped.
Keeping people spaced apart isn’t much of a problem in the orchard’s 60 acres, where crops are planted in rows 6 feet apart.
“There’s plenty of space out there,” Ruben said.
They do have a line manager and spacing guides on the pavement to keep people separated at the checkout and have installed hand-washing stations.
And Ruben is enforcing a new rule: You touch it, you buy it.
“I always wanted it,” he said, “because some people will go around and feel all the fruit on the trees. They’ll do it at the supermarket, too — feel all the fruit and smash it, and by the time everyone’s done that, it’s no good.”
The orchard currently has zucchini, summer squash, beets, peas and carrots — lots of carrots, because those usually are harvested by kids on field trips, which have been suspended with schools closed.
“We kind of help with a shovel and loosen them up,” Ruben said. “If anyone wants to pick carrots and brings a little hand shovel or something, that’s useful.”
Ruben said a lot of people are eagerly awaiting harvest time for apricots, which he expects in 10 days to two weeks. Tomatoes won’t be ready for another three or four weeks, he said.
The orchard is open from 7 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It’s at 7800 N. Tenaya Way in the northern part of the valley, not far from the intersection of U.S. Highway 95 and the northern 215 Beltway. For information on current crops, visit thegilcreaseorchard.org, call 702-409-0655 or use the orchard’s app.