Business is booming at Old Stone Orchard

In the midst of a pandemic, owner Warren Wetzel is seeing more customers than ever before

By Kristen Ray
Posted 10/14/20

LITTLE COMPTON - Holden Lieberman stood amidst the rows of apple trees at Old Stone Orchard Friday afternoon, holding the freshly picked fruit in his hands. He took a big bite of the Fuji apple, …

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Business is booming at Old Stone Orchard

In the midst of a pandemic, owner Warren Wetzel is seeing more customers than ever before

Posted

LITTLE COMPTON - Holden Lieberman stood amidst the rows of apple trees at Old Stone Orchard Friday afternoon, holding the freshly picked fruit in his hands. He took a big bite of the Fuji apple, juice dribbled down the soon-to-be-three-year-old’s face.

Joined by younger sister, Indie, and parents J-Ray and Adam, Holden and his family seemingly had the orchard  to themselves as they enjoyed the cool-weather outing while visiting from Florida.

“We haven’t seen another person out here,” said Mrs. Lieberman.

The family came at the perfect time, then – because this has been the busiest season Old Stone Orchard owner Warren Wetzel has ever seen.

“It’s been mobbed, it’s been ridiculous,” Mr. Wetzel said. “Ridiculous good, so I’m very happy.”

Socially distanced lines at the register on any given weekend wrap toward the back; at certain points during the season, the number of customers has about tripled from what it has ever been before. By the end of that weekend, Mr. Wetzel predicted they’d be all picked-out of apples at 33 Colebrook Road; because it’s been so “wild”, he plans to open up his commercial site down the road for picking as well.

“It’s been very good – very, very, good,” he said. “I’m a happy old guy.”

With their dwarf-sized trees carrying 13 varieties of apples and even some pears, along with their open fields of pumpkin patches, Old Stone Orchard, Mr. Wetzel suspected, is a safe, fun activity the whole family can still enjoy – no reservation required – even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’ve been couped up for so long they can’t go to the movies, they can’t go out to eat, they can’t go anywhere,” he said.

Though customers have to wear a mask while at the register, the rules are eased for those strolling through the orchard; every row is 14.5 ft. wide, with roughly seven feet between every tree.

“The trees are practicing social distancing, making the people conform,” Mr. Wetzel said.

As a result, the year has brought plenty of new visitors to Old Stone Orchard; while the Lieberman’s were picking apples up in the orchard, New Jersey natives Scott Hilton and Gabby Pinizzotto were busy selecting the perfect pumpkin nearby. But for Kelly Mendoza and her son, Jordan, coming down from Fairhaven, Mass., to spend some time at the orchard is a long-standing tradition – in act that Friday was their second day in a row in doing so.

“There are some closer to us, but this one’s better,” Ms. Mendoza said.

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