Saturday, April 25, 2020

Letter from John Krueger, Circle Brook Farm

Hi Folks, 

I hope you are all staying safe and healthy during these difficult times. We are working hard to grow your food. We have already planted close to 4 acres of potatoes, onions and leeks with more seed potatoes set to arrive tomorrow. The first planting of peas are poking up through the soil and a second planting will go in tomorrow. Carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, arugula and chard were seeded during the past week. We have transplanted some lettuce, kale, cabbage, broccoli and bok choy with a lot more waiting in the wings (the greenhouse that is) as soon as we get past that last really cold night. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow. We’ve had some rain and some pretty crazy wind but it has not been as wet as it often can be in the early spring so we’ve been able to prepare a lot of ground. We will be ready to start transplanting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and some of the other warm weather crops in about a week or as soon as it seems safe.

My crew is doing well and I have been making efforts to make sure they stay safe. They have laundry facilities in the house so that they don’t need to go to a laundromat. They have been instructed on proper and frequent hand washing, are wearing masks and have been asked to go to the supermarket as infrequently as possible. They know that they must report any symptoms to me immediately. Some of you may have heard that the Trump administration is taking steps to try to lower the hourly wage of agricultural guest workers such as those I employ. H2-A, the guest worker program that I use sets a wage rate for each state, each season. It is meant to protect American workers from being displaced and foreign workers from being exploited. It generally increases slightly each year but occasionally drops; currently it is 13.24/hr. Several years ago the wage dropped by 20 cents/hour from the previous season. I continued to pay my crew at the higher rate, since I did not feel right cutting their pay. I will continue to pay my workers the wage that they were promised regardless of any changes allowed by the Dept. of Labor.

Hang in there folks. We will get through this and my crew and I will keep you well fed!

Be well, 
Farmer John