Delaware County orchard owner says farmers market sales have doubled amid pandemic

MEDIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- As the farm manager at Linvilla Orchards, Norm Schultz's job is socially distant. He has a team of six that helps him farm the 300 acres.

"We're lucky that the crew, they live together on the property, so they're very isolated," he said.

Schultz says while the orchard should be enjoying the crowds the annual strawberry festival would bring, business has doubled in the market and the garden.

"Right now, it's been a balance. The farm market is actually busier than the past because people like the experience of less crowds than a supermarket," he said.

The store has adopted a lot of precautions, requiring masks inside and limiting guests, putting up plastic covers at registers and offering curbside pickup.

"We've been in business 106 years," said Wayne Matsinger, the store manager. "We've gone through catastrophes - our barn burned down. That was our main building 20 years ago. This company can adapt better than anyone I've seen."

Linvilla said where business is taking a hit is on the entertainment side as festivals have been canceled. The playground is closed, and when strawberry picking does begin, it won't come with any hayrides.

The owners say they think people will come because it's outside.

"We did notice a couple farms are doing drive-thru festivals, so that's something we're looking at if this situation continues into the summer," said Schultz.

For now, rather than worry about what's ahead, the orchard is just hoping people will enjoy picking strawberries without the flare of a festival.

"We're asking people to come out and support the pick your own, but to be safe," said Schultz.
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