Since we began farming in 2012, growing food with organic practices has been a top priority for us. This season, we took the leap to become a Certified Organic farm. We are now certified through Baystate Organic Certifiers.
In practice, mostly nothing will change. (Other than some paperwork and tracking.) We will continue to spray no pesticides, fungicides, herbicides. We will continue to cover crop fields and promote natural areas for wildlife habitat around our farm. But we thought we would share the news just the same.
We're getting lots of questions about what the CSA will look like in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The short answer is that we still don't know for sure given that things are still so much in flux from week to week, but we do have some idea of measures we may take to make our Westy CSA pickup as safe as possible. I expect that we will have more concrete answers for you once we know whether New York State will be "paused" beyond the current date of 5/15/2020.
It is my thinking and Aaron's that our free choice CSA pick-up can be held in a very safe manner with minimal contact amongst CSA members and farm crew. The good news is CSA is inherently safer than getting your produce from the grocery store - there is significantly less foot traffic at CSA than at a store, and there are far fewer hands touching any local food compared to food being harvested, shipped and stocked, regardless of whether there is a global pandemic.
If bars and restaurants are still closed in June (and beyond), will the free choice pick-up at the Westy still happen?
We have communicated with the owners of the Westy and will most likely be able to hold our pick-up there, whether the bar itself is open or closed. If we are unable to, we will find another suitable, convenient location downtown and we will communicate that immediately.
What measures will you take in light of containment and social distancing?
Our goals are to keep the CSA as safe and as free choice as possible. We would like to avoid offering pre-packed boxes to members who prefer free choice. Please note that nothing is finalized and these are all ideas. Thoughts we have in regard to keeping members safe and six feet apart include:
- Doubling (or more, if possible) the amount of table space, making room for six-foot distancing at CSA pick-up.
- Limiting the number of members at the produce stand at one time.
- Pre-bagging some items like mixed greens and arugula.
- Asking that members only touch items they will be taking.
- Asking that members send only one person from their household to retrieve the week's produce.
- Dedicating an early pick-up time slot for immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable populations. (We may run curbside for these members if necessary.)
- Assigning members suggested pick-up slots according to first letter of last name, to ensure a more even spread of attendance.
If very stringent physical distancing measures remain in place in June, which would fully not surprise us, we may choose to staff the table in protective gear. In this scenario we'll have members tell us what they need that week, and we will do the physical packing of bags for you.
We will of course ask that all members wear masks at CSA pick-up and that they also follow any other applicable CDC guidelines. We will also strongly suggest that members keep hand sanitizers in their vehicles, bike baskets or pockets and that they sanitize before approaching the produce stand.
I just want to pick up a box. Is that an option?
As in past years we will offer a boxed share pick-up on the farm on Wednesday afternoons, 3 to 7 p.m. We generally also offer a boxed share pick-up at Ithaca College. We will be changing the location of that pick-up this season but have not yet selected an alternate pick-up site. We will find a boxed share pick-up location that is conveniently located in the City of Ithaca. We almost at capacity for boxed shares for this season.
Will you offer home delivery?
It's possible we will offer home delivery, most likely in a limited radius of the City of Ithaca. There would be a surcharge for each box to cover the significant labor costs of box purchase, packing and delivery. We would initially open to immune-compromised individuals (this would be honor system of course) and if there are remaining shares, we would then open our home delivery option to the larger population.
Will there be items other than produce available for purchase at the Westy?
As in past years there will be add-on CSA shares available: bread, mushrooms, flowers, and new this year, wine. Sign up with each producer directly.
We are currently about 2/3 full for our Westy pickup, which is much farther ahead of where we normally are this time of year. We may expand our membership. Please be in touch if you're thinking about joining this year!
Whatever happens, know that we promise a bountiful season. Hope to see all of your masked smiles soon, from a safe distance.