At the beginning of 2020, we had very different plans for how the year was going to go with our farm than how it turned out to be. As the coronavirus pandemic began to take its toll on the country, making grocery store shelves bare, we realized that our plans needed to adapt to meet the changing needs of our community. Instead of scaling back our operations, as we had planned, we expanded our fields and grew more food than we ever have. We immediately got to work expanding our gardens and planting as much as we could. One silver lining that came from the lockdowns and schools going virtual was that my summer farm help, Kyle and Seth, were able to start earlier than usual. To get things going as quick as we could, our hospitality staff, Diane and Vivian, spent some time at the farm helping us get crops in the ground.
The Knott County Farmer’s Market saw tremendous growth in customers and participation this year, and thankfully we were ready and able to meet the growing demand. We sold out of produce at most markets and did especially well with our greenhouse tomatoes. In the past, we have primarily moved our tomatoes through school and restaurant sells, however, with those being shut down due to heavy restrictions, we were not able to move our tomatoes through those channels. Luckily, with the customer growth at the farmer’s market and many people canning food to last them throughout the uncertainty of 2020, we had no problems getting them into the hands of people who wanted and needed them.
Throughout the year we also provided weekly bags full of produce to our CSA members. In addition, we supplied bi-weekly bags of produce to 30-40 members of the North Fork Fresh Stop Market. This year our customers enjoyed a wide variety of produce, including: cabbage, broccoli, kale, radish, turnips, green onions, potatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, peppers, okra, peas, green beans, sweet corn, lettuce, and winter squash. We also raised 300 of our pasture-raised, non-GMO chicken that we also sold at markets and provided to CSA members.
This whole year has been a blur. It doesn’t even feel like we really had a growing season; it all went by so fast. Thankfully I take a lot of pictures, so I can go back through those to prove to myself that it really did happen and see that despite the challenges, we were able to grow a lot of food and feed a lot of people who were facing a lot of uncertainty in the midst of a crazy time. Day after day, we woke up early and “got after it,” as we would say, planting, weeding, and harvesting all day long. Then we finished out the day at the market bringing the whole process and all the hard work to a culmination as we transferred those fresh veggies to a happy and satisfied customer.
I am looking forward to Spring. I am hoping that in the same way Spring brings about a resurrection of life and a reinvigoration of growth and beauty that we too will come out on the other side of this pandemic revived and renewed, and that love, peace, and fellowship would grow and flourish once again.