Drive-thru lanes are a familiar sight at fast-food joints, but can you imagine drive-thru farm stands?
They’ve become a popular option for farms trying to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 this year. Eagle Acres in Langley and Maan Farms in Abbotsford offered drive-through options for on-farm events this spring. This summer, Blueberry Junction in Abbotsford has incorporated a drive-through option to ensure social distancing for u-pick visitors and berry purchases.
Usually, all transactions are handled in a hut that serves as a retail stand at the front of the property. But the close quarters made that impossible this year due to social distancing protocols requiring two metres’ separation.
Instead, visitors drive into the farm and pay for berries at a tent. Those who want to explore the farm can drive around the field while staff prepare their order. Vehicles flow in one direction guided by signage along the farm’s driveway, making sure the process is safe as well as comfortable for visitors. When they exit, staff equipped with personal protective equipment place the packages of berries in their vehicles.
The farm is continuing to offer u-pick at the front of the property to avoid traffic congestion and physical distancing among guests.
“We have come up with this idea to prevent COVID this year,” says co-owner Kerry Seale. “During the previous years, we used to sell the fruit at the front desk of the farm. But this year, due to the pandemic, we are using the front of the farm for u-picking. The consumers are encouraged to use drive-thru for fresh pick-up.”
Visitors have adapted to the new way of making farm-fresh food faster and just as convenient as to-go options.
“This drive thru mode is [a] safer mode in this pandemic. The customers can come and pick fruit,” said Manpreet, a visitor at Blueberry Junction.