Since March everything has changed and everyone has had to learn to adapt. Spring is the busiest time of year on the farm, as many demanding crops pour in all at the same time, some of them needing to be picked every other day. It takes a reliable and hard working crew to stay on top of everything. With Covid 19 wreaking havoc across the world and a lot of unknowns of infection rates in our community we have taken some big pre-cautions.
On the Farm
We usually allow volunteers to come to the farm and we even organize a large work party to help with our garlic harvest every spring. Not this year. We have limited visitors to the farm to our crew and CSA members who pick up their shares at the farm. CSA members are only allowed to get out of their cars to get their food and then must exit the premises. No farm strolls allowed, sadly. For garlic we invited our crew's significant others to help and two other volunteers who we know have been social distancing. We all wore masks all day long and got the job done!
For normal work days we are not requiring masks for outdoor tasks and are encouraging everyone to space out and not work close together. Only one person is allowed in the farm vehicles at a time. In the barn where we wash and pack everyone must wear a mask. What started off as an annoyance has turned into routine and none of us seem to mind or even notice anymore. Regular and frequent hand washing has always been our policy, so no real changes there.
At the Market
For a few weeks we stopped attending the Tallahassee Farmers Market on Saturdays all together. Once we felt we could return with a solid safety protocol we did but we limited our offerings to pre-assembled veggie bags and encouraged our customers to pre-order on our website. As May has approached and there are more vegetables available we are now back to the market with the usual display, but still aren't selling the usual way. We have our tent roped off and only our mask and glove wearing crew touch the vegetables. We have set up touchless payment options and overall it feels safe.
The Red Hills Online Market (RHO) has seen a boom in interest and has scrambled to handle the increased sales. RHO has gone to entirely delivery and has safety protocol in place to keep everyone safe packing orders. RHO has single handedly kept many small farms in the Tallahassee area in business and fed many many people who are seeking fresh and clean food. It has been amazing to be a part of.
Many of our wonderful restaurant customers are closed or doing less business than in normal times. It hurts our hearts to see their struggle. Many of them have become friends over the years and we sincerely hope they can weather this storm.
Of course, who knows what we'll have in store. Hurricane season is about to get going and they say it's going to be an active one. I hope they're wrong. One thing we know for sure, we will be keeping our safety protocols in place at least through the end of the summer. That said, don't be surprised if come fall our stall at the market is still roped off with masked farmers ready and happy to serve you.