FAIRFIELD — Despite a pandemic, an owner at The Apple Farm is hoping to provide her clientele with as normal an experience as possible for Maine Apple Sunday, which is less than a week away.

Marilyn and Steve Meyerhans have been at The Apple Farm, located on Back Road, for 46 years. They opened for the season on Aug. 13, ahead of schedule as they had a surplus of vegetables to sell.

“We thought it would be fun,” Marilyn Meyerhans said about purchasing the property. “Forty-six years later, we’re still here.”

The two grow vegetables, flowers and over 30 varieties of apples on their 50-acre orchard. At the entrance of the orchard is a barn, where their products as well as items from other local businesses.

Due to the pandemic, some traditions have temporarily been put on hold. Though hayrides are not available now, Meyerhans hopes to be able to get the wagon rolling for Apple Sunday.

“I’d like to do it, but it’s just a question of monitoring people and getting them to understand that we have to socially distance and/or wear a mask,” she said. “Most people are really good about it.”

Masks are required when entering the shop, and the owners are providing some for those that do not bring their own, though this may become costly when they run out of their current supply of masks.

“It’s getting expensive. It costs me money to buy masks. I’d prefer if people bring their own,” Meyerhans said.

Though samples are not currently an attraction that’s available at The Apple Farm, Meyerhans says that they hope to be able to do this for Apple Sunday. Just across the street from the farm is a sunflower patch, where she hopes people can enjoy it at no cost.

Nikkia Veilleux of Waterville selects sunflowers Sunday before snipping them for her children at The Apple Farm in Fairfield. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

“One of the big draws is the sunflower patch,” she said. “I just let people do that for nothing. I do it because I love it; it’s pretty, and I’ve decided to share it. I want others to enjoy it.”

Other changes the couple made include how they handle their products at the farmers market in Waterville. In years past, they’ve put their products in piles and allowed customers to pick out their own, but now, they package the vegetables to allow for more sanitary handling.

Meyerhans describes this years’ crop as “decent,” saying that though it’s been a relatively dry year, their gardens did OK.

“I think the apples started to get a little stressed because of the lack of rain,” Meyerhans said. “It may actually affect next year more than this year, oddly enough, because next years’ apples are already forming.”

The result of the dry season, she said, is smaller apples this year. She added that she employs about 15, including a group of six men from Jamaica that do the professional picking.

For the upcoming Maine Apple Sunday, Meyerhans is hopeful that samples and hayrides will be available. Families are also welcome to host parties at the farm, but are asked to monitor the group sizes coming in; the playground is regularly cleaned.

Until November, the farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I think a lot of our customers know us. We’re trying to keep things as even keel as possible,” Meyerhans said. “There is a lot of upset out in the world right now, and we just want to make things as normal as we can make them, even with a mask on.”

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