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Distanced guests and pumpkin piles

A worldwide pandemic can’t stop Oma’s Family Farm from functioning; wooden wagons continue to roll through the working Lakeside farm that was established in 1960, albeit with extra measures put in place for physical distancing in the age of COVID-19.

Owner Dave Van Ommering said there were lots of little considerations to factor in when deciding how to handle visitors to the pumpkin patch and facility this year.

Handwashing and sanitation stations have been added throughout the site but Van Ommering said the main change is in spacing out ticket sales to constrain attendance rates throughout the day.

“We’re doing timed ticketing so a limited number of people can come in at one time, that keeps us under the 25% capacity rule,” Van Ommering said.

Tickets prices range from a wagon ride to a full weekend package for children which includes admission to the farm, access to all play activities, a pumpkin from the Jack Patch.

Van Ommering said weekday afternoons are slower times for ticketing and children who visit the farm can romp around the playground equipment and swings, and climb on retired farm equipment in the play area.

“The equipment is universal and with schools and playgrounds closed, it’s a great opportunity to just play and have fun,” Van Ommering said.

There is also a special play zone for children under five years old.

The wagon rides are up and running every half-hour, although guests will be spaced out to accommodate distancing rules and are expected to wear masks.

Cottonseed Mountain is also open for kids to slide down the large slope of natural fluff on toboggans over and over again like they’re sledding, sans snow.

Guests who have been to the farm in past years will find The Market shop has moved from its smaller shop by the front entrance area to a larger space where everything is more spread out.

“We moved the store into one of our barns, it allowed for distancing so there’s plenty of air circulation and allows for social distancing. The ventilation is good and people have more room to really move around,” Van Ommering said.

Masks are required for store entry.

Once inside, their usual holiday supplies and crafts like fall wreaths and home decor are available, as well as candles and our honey —  “always a staple” Van Ommering said. They have also added Oma’s-branded merchandise and apparel.

“We’re doing well, we saved for the bad times. We’re hoping this will get us through this year,” Van Ommering said.

This year, tickets have to be purchased in advance to track the number of visitors allowed on site at any particular time. However “we changed and upgraded our site,” Van Ommering said, hoping people will check out the updates put in place by his son, Johnny Van Ommering.

“Johnny redid the website so it is much easier to navigate. He’s also been working on our social media with Instagram and Facebook posts,” Van Ommering said.

Tickets and more information are online at: www.omasfamilyfarm.com to reduce lines and contact and must be purchased in advance to effectively constrain the number of guests on site.

Oma’s is at 14950 El Monte Road in Lakeside.


Source: East County Californian

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