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City Slickers Lose Their Cool Picking Cherries in Brentwood During Heat Wave

BRENTWOOD (KPIX) -- Cherry-picking time in Brentwood is the one weekend a year when many city slickers get to play farmer. This year, Mother Nature provided weather to add some realism to the romance.

For many in the Bay Area, harvesting their own cherries at U-Pick farms like the Bacchini Fruit Tree is a Memorial Day holiday tradition. Six-year-old Isabella Hastings said it can be a little tricky.

"Because they have to be dark red," she explained.

This year, thanks to COVID-19, picking cherries at Bacchini was reservation-only.

Ken Hagan, co-owner of the farm, said online appointments were something they had to institute last season. Since then, they've found that limiting the crowd has benefits, like helping keep things from getting too competitive.

"People would actually get possessive over a certain tree and try and keep people away," he said with a laugh. "It was a very interesting experience for me."

On Sunday, things still got pretty heated, thanks to the sun and a high-pressure system moving over the state. By midday, the temperature was in the mid 90s and Hagan said that's ironic because, so far, the season has been very mild.

"We actually were cooler until now," he said. "Today we're supposed to reach 100 degrees, I think, and tomorrow even hotter. So that will speed up the ripening of things."

It also sped up Darrel Chak as he hustled a box full of cherries to his car and a return to the coolness of his Daly City home.

"I was here about 11 o'clock," he said. "We've been here for maybe an hour, hour and a half and, in this sun, it gets a little hot!"

On the other hand, Hayward resident Steve Argilla enjoys coming out to farm country. He said he considers it a fun life experience and doesn't even mind the heat, even though he admits he's not prepared for it.

"In the Bay Area, more near the bay, we rarely get this kind of heat so, to say that I'm ready for any kind of heat like this? Nah," Argilla admitted.

Hagan says the month of May has become hotter in recent years. He says this year's weather pattern -- cool temps with a warmup on Memorial Day -- is actually the way things used to be.

What pulls people out of the city every year to the cherry orchards? There is something satisfying to the soul to brave the elements and spend time harvesting one's own food but, for most people, the heat -- like the farm itself -- is nice to visit but they wouldn't want to live there.

"The great thing about it is, it's within an hour's drive," Hagan said. "I mean, you can just come out here, experience it and, that evening, you're back home."

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