Local Farmers Carry On

Local Farmers Carry On

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to pose challenges, local farmers are carrying on and ensuring Vermonters have access to local produce, dairy, meat, and more. Over the past number of weeks, we’ve witnessed farmers quickly adapt to this changing reality, adjusting their operations and finding creative ways to get local food to people. From increasing direct to consumer sales to working with food shelves and other non-profits, farmers have demonstrated what makes Vermont’s food system such an integral part of our community fabric. Here, we’ve gathered the stories of our resilient local farmers as we work together to strengthen our local food system during this challenging time. Know of a local farm or food business creatively adapting to COVID-19? Send us an e-mail at cestey@citymarket.coop!

Follow us on Instagram & Facebook to see how some local farmers are carrying on during these uncertain times.

Farmer Updates

We recently caught up with Silas from Last Resort Farm to see how they are handling the new normal around COVID:19.

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.

We recently caught up and spoke with Justin Rich at Burnt Rock Farm in Huntington.

How are you doing considering the current circumstances we find ourselves in?

We are doing pretty well, all things considered. We don't sell at farmers markets, and sell very little to restaurants, so the 2 most affected marketing outlets are hitting other produce farmers much harder than us at the moment. 

Vermont has an amazing history of supporting its local communities and farmers, any specific moments that have stood out to you during this time?

I have been heartened to see how much civility there is everywhere I go. Granted, it's Spring and I run a produce farm, so I don't go too far these days. But when I do step out I see people giving a wide berth and a kind nod, vendors starting their trucks and delivering our supplies like professionals, workers stocking shelves and being consistently helpful, and thousands of other people doing the work that helps the world go round and anchors our existences. We've had more than our fair share of people asking "what can we do to help your farm during this?," and I appreciate the sentiment despite not being in dire need at the moment. Our little corner of the world is full of great people who just want to help. Other corners probably are, too, but I'll just give credit where I can verify it's due.  

Another local farmer that we reached out to was Bill Suhr at Champlain Orchards in Shoreham

How are you doing considering the current circumstances we find ourselves in? 

We have generally seen local purchasing increase with customers appreciating the reliability of the local food supply and our ability to fulfill orders and deliver on short notice,

Vermont has an amazing history of supporting its local communities and farmers, any specific moments that have stood out to you during this time?

We are very fortunate thus far to have had a robust and healthy staff who have been able to step up and fulfill the increased demand for local purchasing. We are really proud that our Co-op community and state have done such a great job of promoting and encouraging local purchasing which has allowed Champlain Orchards to scale up over time and be in a position to respond to the increased demand when other supply channels may have been unable to deliver and fulfill.

One local farmer that we reached out to was Beth Whiting at Maple Wind Farm in Richmond

How are you doing considering the current circumstances we find ourselves in?

We are lucky to be working in normal capacity caring for our animals and gearing up for a busy season - our staff has remained healthy. By the middle of May we will be a full staff of 16 and we will begin to process chickens for the first time this season on May 19th. We had an online store in place since last year and our home delivery program started a few weeks prior to the stay at home recommendations. When that occurred our orders went from 6 per week to over 50. We are now doing free home delivery in our area during the COVID-19 crisis and just started shipping with in a 24 hour zone of the farm this week. We're packing orders every week is like Santa's workshop!

Vermont has an amazing history of supporting its local communities and farmers, any specific moments that have stood out to you during this time?

It's great to see farms collaborating to cross promote each other's products. Many farm stands and home delivery services are getting food in the hands of families in our area. Currently we offer 10 other producers products on our platform and are bringing more on weekly. Folks are realizing that we need local food systems more than ever to thrive - the support has been wonderful.

One local farmer that we reached out to was Eric Seitz down the road at Pitchfork Farm

How are you doing considering the current circumstances we find ourselves in?

Firstly, we’re healthy and safe, and doing well.  My wife and I had our first child, a baby boy, Jules, in late March, which was scary given all that’s happening, but we’re home now and having a ball being parents to this little peanut.  As far as the farm goes, like most businesses, we’re struggling with all of the unknowns and trying to best plan for a summer with so much uncertainty. So much of our farm business is reliant on our partnerships with area restaurants, cafes and food trucks.  With all of them closed, we’ve seen our sales to 80% of our accounts grind to an absolute halt. Trying to balance spring work and how much of our hired crew we’ll actually need with no real sense of whether restaurants will re-open this summer has made for a fairly stressful spring. Right now we’re staying the course as far as our crop planning, and focusing on making sure our wholesale to our grocery stores and distributors remains stable.