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'We've been hit with multiple challenges.' Huber's Orchard and Winery fights pandemic, late frost to stay open

A pandemic and a late frost has brought a one-two punch to some farmers.

STARLIGHT, Ind. — Visitors to Huber’s Orchard and Winery will notice new social distancing signage, masks and occupancy limits. Tables are spaced out for distance and a tent with extra tables sits in the parking lot. It’s how the owners are working to keep visitors safe in the age of the coronavirus.

“I mean we’ve been hit with multiple challenges and had to change strategies and pivot and do things we’ve never had to do before this year,” said Lisa Kruer, the marketing director for Huber’s Winery.

Kruer says when u-pick season came, the business found even more challenges to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

“Getting the guests out to the fields which are a fair piece away from the parking lot was our biggest challenge,” she said.

Now, Huber’s is using their ‘grain trains’ to give socially distanced rides to strawberry pickers. Grain trains are separate wagons attached together that are usually used inside the Family Farm Park on the property.

Once in the fields, workers make sure pickers are spaced out with multiple rows in between.

“2020 I don’t think was on anyone’s radar,” said Kruer, “the things we’ve had to deal with.”

On top of a pandemic, farmers at Huber’s faced the challenge of a late frost this spring.

“We are still evaluating the impact of the frost on the different crops,” said Kruer.

Kruer said the strawberry fields were kept safe with an irrigation system, but challenges to other crops might mean a few replacement products planted later this year.  

Still, through every hurdle, Kruer says Huber’s is committed to the community.

“Regardless of what we’ve had to do, how we’ve had to change or pivot, we’re here to offer that experience as long as possible,” she said.

Kruer says the Family Farm Park will open on June 14 and starting June 20 the winery will have live music on the patio.

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