Follow these helpful guidelines to safely make the most of your pumpkin patch excursion.

By Emily VanSchmus
August 20, 2020
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As autumn approaches, I’ve been looking forward to crossing things off the annual fall bucket list—namely, wearing cozy sweaters, drinking a pumpkin spice latte, and picking out a pumpkin at the patch. But as fall gets closer, I’ve wondered if going to the pumpkin patch is a safe choice. It is an outdoor activity, but my local patch is always packed with people, and you can’t really practice social distancing on a crowded hayride wagon. 

To learn more, I chatted with Betsy Greenleaf, a physician, mom, and self-proclaimed ‘wellness warrior’ about whether or not the pumpkin patch is a good idea this year. She explained that as long as you follow certain safety guidelines, you can absolutely go to the pumpkin patch. “In this crazy world, it is important to keep as many traditions as possible for the mental health of you and your family,” she says. However, she does have a few tips you should follow if you plan to go. 

family at pumpkin patch in wagon
Credit: Jennifer van Son/Getty Images

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1 Call Ahead

Greenleaf recommends calling the pumpkin patch before you go to find out what their Covid-19 policies are and what they’re doing to keep visitors safe. Every business is different, and since the mandated restrictions vary so much by location, there’s no way to know what procedures will be implemented without talking to the business. Ask how they plan to monitor social distancing, crowds, and other safety concerns. If you don’t feel comfortable with how they’re handling the situation, stay home. 

2 Go on a Slow Day

When you call the business, ask what days and times they’re least busy, and plan to go when crowds are light. If you can, try to go first thing in the morning when produce has been handled the least.

3 Check the Weather

To cut down on exposure to other patch-goers, check the weather. Days that are overcast or threatening to rain are more likely to be less busy than bright sunny days—of course, come prepared for the weather.

4 Bring Hand Sanitizer

While you don’t need to go so far as to disinfect your pumpkin at the patch (according to WHO and the CDC, there is no evidence that pumpkins have a risk of disease transmission), it’s a good idea to bring hand sanitizer for yourself to use throughout the day. Greenleaf suggests looking for pumpkin- or apple-scented hand sanitizer to make the experience more fun for little ones.

5 Wear a Mask

Of course, any time you plan to be around other people, you should wear a mask. If you’re feeling festive, you can order Halloween-theme face masks for the whole family. If the actual patch isn’t crowded, you don’t need to keep it on all day. But if you interact with other families, go on a hayride, or purchase your pumpkins at a checkout stand, you’ll want to put your mask on.

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