The first snow of the season allowed Maple Corner Farm in Granville to open early for cross country skiing and snow shoeing. Last spring, the farm’s maple sugaring season was cut short due to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions. This winter visitors will encounter new changesfrom how they purchase tickets, to the amount of people allowed in the lodge, and social distancing in the rental shop.   

Despite the restrictions, opening weekend was quite popular with people just looking to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Producer Dave Fraser brings us the story. 

Read the full transcript:

Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: An early December snowstorm, followed by mild temperatures, had people out on the trails at Maple Corner Farm in Granville. This working farm has been in continuous operation since 1812.

And since 1984, during the winter months, the farm has offered cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. This year, with COVID restrictions, they have had to make some modifications.

David Ripley, Maple Corner Farm: Put in a new outdoor ticket booth, so we can sell directly to folks and they can go straight from there to the trails rather than coming into the lodge. Cut down on our indoor seating and pretty much are not doing much as far as food. We are serving some drinks and snacks and all that.

Leon Ripley, Maple Corner Farm: Farmers are pretty ingenuitive. We have to go with the times, whether we like it or not. We kind of curse and moan sometimes.

But in the end, we most mostly win out in the battle of changes. But this year has been a year changes from the very beginning, so that we’re still here and we plan on being here. Good or bad times.

Dave Fraser: The farm has an elevation of about fourteen hundred feet and sits at the foothills of the Berkshires. Like most farms still in business today, they have learned to diversify

Maple sugaring is what they are best known for, but they also have pick your own blueberries in the summer and run a small beef operation. But on this day, it was the newly fallen snow that had brought people out.

Scott Grillo, Boston Resident: You know, we’re inside all week working like a lot of people and just need to get outside. And what — you know, we were going to go downhill skiing, but everything was already booked up. So, we decided to come out here.

But absolutely being outside fresh air, it’s good for you, your brain, good for your body and just helps clear your head.

Dave Fraser: John and Rosanne Pavao came up from Connecticut and brought a picnic lunch, which they set up out of the back of their car.

John Pavao, Glastonbury Resident: Normally, we would use the lodge, we would eat in the lodge. But because of COVID, we’re having picnics. Basically, we lucked out. We have a very nice warm day.

Cross-country skiing is perfect for for COVID because the only time you’re really near somebody at a junction of a trail. But for the most part, you’re a good 10 feet away from everybody.

Irene Pudelkiewicz, Tolland Resident: My son’s home from Colorado for Christmas, and I have a pair of cross-country skis that I have yet to baptize. So, we Googled the nearest place to go cross-country skiing and where we live. And we’re here today to do it.

And we’re ready to go!

Tommy Pudelkiewicz, Tolland Resident: It’s a little less hilly than up in Colorado. But I’m just kind of hoping to see some good scenery, some maybe a gorgeous sunset, but it’s nice to get out and outdoors and just have a good time.

Dave Fraser:  Owner Leon Ripley says the past few years of snowfall have been lackluster at best. So, getting an early storm brings hope and promise for a good season.

Leon Ripley, Maple Corner Farm: Last year we actually got a storm in December. We got two days and of course, it came and went in about four, and that was really the end. We didn’t get any holiday season or or mid-January skiing until the very last week of January.

So, hopefully that we can get the restaurant open up here and a year after the first of the year and we’ll get rolling again.