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    Farming in a pandemic

    submitted by Lori Stewart Katz, Charlann Farm

    Farmers are resilient when it comes to overcoming unpredictable hurdles. Droughts, floods, pests, and now a pandemic. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, people and businesses were impacted in an unprecedented way.

    Farming was categorized as essential, but operations were a far cry from business as usual.

    As a result of the pandemic, farmers had to adapt, like many businesses, to find solutions so customers would feel safe. This involved using enhanced technology to allow for online orders, curbside pickup, and involved modifying current agri-tourism activities to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

    By the time Fall arrived, families were yearning for some sense of normalcy. Fall Festivals could be just the ticket! One local, fifth-generation, family farm added a Fall Festival a few years ago hoping to attract more customers. The pandemic forced this farm, and many other local farms, to establish additional procedures regarding masks and sanitizing efforts, and find a way to open Fall Festivals while keeping employees and consumers safe.

    This local farm decided to require timed tickets purchased online in advance to limit the number of people at one time. The capacity limits actually created a more positive Fall Festival experience for many patrons. It allowed families to truly enjoy each activity without feeling overcrowded or rushed. This fall, many local farms will likely continue timed ticketing as a way to better connect with their customers and provide a boutique agri-tourism experience.

    In a time of crisis, local farmers were adaptable, solution-focused, and innovative in their approach. Fall is around the corner, and with uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, local farms will be a popular low-risk destination.

    People can pick the perfect pumpkin, experience fun fall-themed activities and create more family memories in a safe, outdoor setting.

    PHOTO CAP: Pumpkins galore at Charlann Farm.

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