How are you doing considering the current circumstances we find ourselves in?
Intervale Community Farm is doing pretty well given the circumstances. Though we are facing some substantially increased costs as we adapt for COVID-19 safety, we haven’t lost sales. Our staff continues to be healthy and productive, and, heck, it’s Spring!
Vermont has an amazing history of supporting its local communities and farmers, any specific moments that have stood out to you during this time?
As a consumer co-op CSA, ICF is fortunate to have a committed membership that has stuck with us through our COVID-19 adjustments. We are hearing thanks and gratitude from our members on a regular basis. We’ve also had a great response from other organizations when we’ve contacted them for information and/or assistance: Intervale Center, UVM Extension, NOFA-VT, VEDA, and the Burlington Resource and Recovery Center. Everyone has really wanted to help and make things as painless as possible.
How do you see Vermont farmers adjusting to the “new normal”?
I see many new distribution arrangements hatching. Many produce growers are dependent on farmers’ markets and restaurant sales, neither of which will purchase as usual. Produce growers are banding together for home delivery, starting on-line ordering systems for grab & go pickup, and generally applying their creativity to figure out a workable system, given the new constraints.
How are you changing or innovating your farming practices during this time?
The big change at ICF is that we are pre-bagging all of our CSA shares for a drive-through pickup. Ordinarily, we aim to foster human interaction at our CSA distributions while we provide fresh, organic produce. Though time and resource consuming, the pre-bagged system is keeping our staff and CSA members safe, while still providing a great mix of excellent produce. The big challenge for ICF will be figuring out how to do the same for our summer CSA distribution, which begins in June. Our summer share pick-ups are practical a biweekly festival, so we are figuring out how to re-arrange for social distancing and drastically reduced personal contact.
What are you looking forward to most once the “stay-at-home” order gets lifted?
Personally, I am looking forward to walking around and visiting with friends. At ICF, we are anticipating the day when we can stop bagging up everything, and let our CSA members choose their own produce and stop and chat for a bit.
Any words of hope or inspiration you would like to share?
While the situation is demoralizing and worrisome, I see so many people locally, regionally, and nationally putting their all into helping their communities get through this challenge with the least possible damage. It will take a long time and a lot more work from the grassroots and the governments, but I hope that we can come out the other side with a sense that joint effort for common purpose really can achieve things.