We’re in This Together: Finding New Ways to Connect During the Pandemic

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For the last several months, we have all lived in a new reality that has shifted our priorities and changed many aspects of our lives, including how we buy food. While we can’t yet put this pandemic behind us, we can begin to take stock of some important lessons these challenging times have taught us. Two lessons come to mind for me – the truly essential nature of farming and food production, and the interdependence of farmers and the public they feed.

More than ever, Americans have shown an interest in agriculture and a renewed appreciation for a strong, resilient food supply chain. Farmers welcome this opportunity to tell their stories and promote understanding of who they are and how they grow our food and fiber.

Farms did not survive the last several months alone, and the connections farmers made with the public highlight how much we really do rely on each other and what we can accomplish when we work together. You came to the farmer when the farmer could not always get his goods to you, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You drove to parking lots to pack your trunks with chicken, produce and seafood at direct sales, you put on masks to come pick berries on our farms, and you shopped outdoors and kept a safe distance from your neighbors at our garden centers. One of the many heartbreaking factors of this pandemic has been the economic harm so many families have endured, and farmers humbly packed up boxes of produce, meat and dairy goods for your families when making ends meet became difficult.

Perhaps farm-to-consumer direct sales or trips to the farmers market gave you the chance to meet a few farmers, even if you met mask-to-mask rather than face-to-face. We hope you’ll be thinking of those men and women as you hit the road this fall, because farmers need your help there, too.

Farmers are now moving from melons and sweet corn to pumpkins and apples, and they beg your patience and attentiveness as they share the road with you to deliver that harvest. Our vehicles are large and slow-moving, we know, but food doesn’t reach you if we can’t safely transport it to the packer, to the processor, to the store, to restaurants. Farm vehicles are required to carry eye-catching signs and lights, but we ask you to stay focused on the road and avoid distractions while driving. (See article page 5.) Let’s all do our best to keep each other safe on the roads.

We hope to see you soon in our pumpkin patches and on our tree lots, and we hope you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy until then.

– Shawn Harding

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