REXFORD – There’s plenty of buzz around Riverview Orchards, though it’s no longer coming from its longstanding bee display.
“We don’t want to have people lingering because people get too close to each other and so I am very careful not to leave things to do and see this year, like the donut robot and the beehive,” said Isabel Prescott of Riverview Orchards.
The bee display was first installed in 1990 as a way for kids to learn more about the bees that help pollinate the orchard. While it’s gone through a few different design iterations over the years, it’s always been a mainstay at Riverview, with young visitors often crowding around it to catch a glimpse of the busy insects and trying to spot the queen bee.
“People love seeing it. It’s so much fun to look at and it’s very educational. That’s one reason I do it because without bees we really cut down on our food supply because they’re part of the food chain for pollination,” Prescott said.
The donut robot, which allowed people to watch how the circular confections were made, is another popular Riverview attraction that tends to draw a crowd.
With the coronavirus pandemic, Prescott didn’t want to take any chances and decided to forgo the displays this year, leaving the bees to their own hives and shutting down the donut robot. Instead, she has set up other activities outside.
“ . . . we’re sending them to see our baby goats behind our main building and we actually planted a couple of acres of corn so that we could make paths in it for kids to go out and just have a little bit of fun outside instead,” Prescott said.
The six Lamancha goats were born in April on a nearby farm and were recently brought over to Riverview. Kids enjoy seeing them, said Prescott, and it’s one way to keep everyone outside, where they can more easily maintain social distance. The orchard also asks visitors to wear a mask.
This season has been a busy one, according to Prescott. While many summer and fall events have been canceled because of the pandemic, apple picking is one tradition that has remained on the calendar.
“I really think the pilgrimage to the apple farm has become a tradition and so they know that they’ll be outside and they can run around. There’s 80 acres of farmland so they can find a place to walk. I think that’s been really helpful for people because they’ve been inside so long,” Prescott said.
It’s also been a great season in terms of the apples as well, according to Prescott. Currently, the orchard offers Macintosh, Empire and Cortland apples; others will follow later in the season.
Riverview Orchard is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday, with picking hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s located at 660 Riverview Road, Rexford. For more information, visit rivervieworchards.com.