The Dirt on Farming During a Pandemic

chickensSpring started full of optimism despite the global pandemic. Unlike last season, spring came as expected with warm mild weather and a good mix of rain and sun. We were able to get into the fields with the tractor to plant. Yes, we were hit with a late frost but were able to keep the greenhouse warm with the help of propane heaters and cover the crops in the ground using our tomato coverings.

We decided to start offering Farm Boxes to help our customers manage the shortages and long line ups in the grocery stores using the contacts that Farmer Jim has made over the years.

Jim would call around to local farms to see what he could drive around and collect to share with his customers because we don’t store or offer much from the greenhouse. Many of the farms were out of crops or faced supply issues but collectively these farmers were optimistic that things would change for the best quickly. We were able to regularly pull together a limited quantity of farm boxes, while the grocery stores were challenged to keep products stocked.

The farm is still being challenged by the supply and demand resulting from the pandemic. Many farms are not able to produce as much because there is a labour shortage and many scaled back this season without the demand from restaurants.  Covid continues to wreak havoc in farming communities across Ontario, causing shortages and great demand. The recent drought may start affecting produce in the next few weeks as well.

How does this affect you as a CSA member? Due to the unpredictability of our crops and neighbouring crops we are not always able to guarantee the contents on Monday (when this email is shared). In the past if we were shy on our harvest, we would simply hop in the pickup truck, cross the road and buy off a neighbour to complete the shares but this year the availability is just not there! Using our own crops and our farming practice of picking at the height of ripeness we are filling the shares from our fields with a daily assortment of produce. We realize this is making it hard to tailor your share, we ask that if there is something you do not care for please let us know and we will replace it with what we have available that day.

With the uncertainty of when things would open up and what the customer demand would be for visiting the farm or Pick your own we delayed hiring staff. This week we have introduced many new staff members to help in the fields and in the markets. These staff members would have regularly been hired weeks prior to the opening of the farm. We did not have the slower rainy spring days to train them and have put them to the test this week with the high demand for strawberry picking. The staff is younger but stronger!

Being a CSA member guarantees you a greater than $30 value of fresh produce that is grown locally by other family run farms with a selection of 6 or more items. We continue to be optimistic and hope that things will balance out despite a slower start to the season.