How are you doing considering the current circumstances we find ourselves in?
We're doing okay. There's definitely been some loss of revenue from cancelled markets, but retail and non-restaurant wholesale accounts have both seen significant growth. It's more the uncertainty of the future that's a concern: how will berry PYO work and will the preventative measures we take have a substantially negative impact on demand/sales? If so, will we be able to pick all the berries and sell them? Will retail demand stay strong or will we need to once again pivot sales strategies as consumer preferences change? Compared to others we have no reason to complain, but the constant pivoting has meant we've been putting in mid-season hours and we're getting tired!
Vermont has an amazing history of supporting its local communities and farmers, any specific moments that have stood out to you during this time?
My mom posted a thank you letter from one of our customers on our Instagram account and that really underscores the overall amount of gratitude we've felt and received from many of our amazing customers and community members we're so lucky to have.
How do you see Vermont farmers adjusting to the “new normal”?
I'm sure if you asked me this again in a month, or even a week it'd be a very different answer. I'm not sure what the "new normal" is or what it will be yet, but for now the shift has been towards more farmer to farmer cooperation, pre-packaging everything and a mass scramble to build sales infrastructure and marketing online. By the time the pandemic hit it was too late to adjust most of our crop plan but if the movement towards local sustains we may be lucky enough to increase production next year.
How are you changing or innovating your farming practices during this time?
We're much more retail oriented now with a more organized online presence, more drop off locations, and we've been carrying more product than our own at the farm stand which has been really fun.
What are you looking forward to most once the “stay-at-home” order gets lifted?
Customer interaction! A big part of our motivation to do what we do is to see how much joy our produce brings to the local community. It's the vivid images of kids spontaneously burst with screams and giggles of happiness when they pick and eat their first strawberry of the season, when old timers shuck and take a bite of sweet corn in front of you and tell you how it brings back memories of their childhood, those and many similar experiences are bonding moments for us and the whole community that grabbing produce from a large scale corporation could never provide.
Any words of hope or inspiration you would like to share?
So many thanks to all who have supported us! We appreciate all the sacrifice everyone has made to help us get through this, even if it is at a distance.