Saturday, April 4, 2020

Letter from John Krueger, Circle Brook Farm, 2020 Season

NOTE:  John sent me this letter on 3/30.  Since he wrote this his workers have arrived and volunteers are not needed at this time!!!

Hello Everyone, 

I hope that all of you are well and are staying safe and as secluded as possible. In a normal year I would be telling you that we have been busy in the greenhouse (which we have) and that the garlic was up and growing nicely (which it is).  But as you all know this is not a normal year. We are living in the future; amid a crisis that scientists have been warning us about for many years. Unfortunately, we did not heed these warnings and were not prepared. If there had been a quicker and more aggressive response, we might have reduced the severity of the outbreak here. But the reality is that this crisis will likely be ongoing for most of this year if not longer. We have the advantage of many brilliant scientists who are working tirelessly to find treatment for Covid-19; we have a much better understanding of viruses than ever before in history. We also have incredible technological and computing abilities which will aid in the search for treatment options. We should remain hopeful that progress will be made quickly and that the most vulnerable among us will be spared. In the meantime, we will all have to make tremendous changes in how we live our lives. 
As the pandemic began to unfold my initial thought was that farmers markets would be closed or at least poorly attended.  I briefly considered cutting back on my planting to cut my losses.  But we all need to contribute what we can to help each other through these challenging times. People need to eat, and it will be more important than ever that they have access to fresh and nutritious food to strengthen and sustain them. Growing good, clean, healthful food is what we are dedicated to and we have a responsibility to produce as much as we can.  If we grow more than we can sell it will be donated; it will not go to waste.
In terms of the CSA distribution we will obviously need to make some changes in order to maintain social distancing and keep everyone safe. As we get closer to the start of the season, we will have a better idea what will be necessary.  On the farm end we will need to be more vigilant than ever with our sanitary procedures.  We will be instituting more rigorous and thorough disinfection of the crates and tubs we use, mandating more frequent hand washing as well as the use of gloves for the workers and delivery drivers.  Clearly, we will need to closely monitor the health of all employees.
As many of you may already know, I use a Department of Labor guest worker program known as H2-A to bring workers for the season. I have a crew of 11 that come from Guatemala and another 4 from Nicaragua. All these workers have been with the farm for many years, some for 10 years. Due to the onset of the pandemic my workers have not been able to arrive. I am still hopeful that some of them will be able to arrive; meantime I am exploring various alternatives. While we have been keeping up in the greenhouse, it is now time to start planting in the field and without help we will very quickly start to fall behind. There is a great deal of cleanup work that needs to be done out in the fields ahead of planting. Woody remnants of peppers, eggplant and other crops need to be pulled and removed from the field and plastic mulch needs to be pulled up and gathered. This is hard work but requires very little skill and does not require anyone to be in close contact with others. We are asking for volunteers to come out to the farm and work a 4-hour shift.                                                                                                                          Sign up for a shift at:
     We are all in this together and we all need to be responsible, help and be kind one another.  We will get through this but it will be a long road back to any semblance of normalcy.   

Be safe! Be healthy!   

Farmer John