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Apple orchards expect sweet season despite pandemic

Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 2:28 PM EDT
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CABOT, Vt. (WCAX) - With summer quickly fading away, it’s the start of apple season in Vermont. Our Joe Carroll went up to the hills of Cabot to see if the picking is easy in a pandemic year.

Mike Cloutier and his wife, Diane, are spending some quality time with their grandkids at Burtt’s Apple Orchard in Cabot.

“This is sort a rite of passage. It’s fall time and we’re going to pick apples over to Burtt’s,” Mike said.

They’re making up for lost time. Thanks to the pandemic, they didn’t see Sawyer and Silas much earlier in the year.

“Now that we sort of have a sense of what’s going on, this is sort of a sense of coming together. We can do this as a family,” Mike said.

Unlike other events, apple picking can be done socially distanced from others.

Greg Burtt runs the orchard with his wife, Stefanie. He came back to the family farm after college to start the orchard from scratch. There were some lean years early on.

“We had years when we couldn’t pay the landlord the rent,” he said.

They started with 750 trees. Now, they have 9,000 with 40 varieties of apples.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Ever get sick of apples?

Greg Burtt: I get sick of trying apples that aren’t quite ripe yet! To see if they’re ripe.

But Burtt’s is not just picking apples, it’s an experience.

Greg’s mother, Johnnye, makes the cider doughnuts.

Outside, kids can go for a ride throughout the orchard in pull carts.

“We’re going around making sure everything is clean more often than we used to,” Greg said.

Burtt didn’t know what to expect in the spring when the coronavirus was taking off. The verdict now in the apple season? He’s pleasantly surprised.

“Thankfully we’ve had more customers coming,” he said.

With fairs canceled and other events pulled for the year, they expect a banner season.

Apple picking for the Cloutiers is a sweet distraction.

“Yeah, this is the way it should be,” Mike said.

A slice of normalcy in a most unusual year.

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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