COVID-19 and California’s Farmers. Part 1: Small Niche Farmers.

What’s Happening With Farmers?

As this pandemic has ravaged all parts of the world, a community affected terribly but quietly has been the farming community. While I live in California, this topic reaches all farmers negatively impacted by COVID-19. I’ve been able to interview several farmers in central California. Below are two small business farmers that offer specific niche products and services that have been affected by this pandemic.

Harmony Lavender

Link above

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to Claudia Estrada, the owner and operator of Harmony Lavender farms. An organic farm located in Atascadero CA, that grows and produces products from their lavender. Ms. Estrada is a vibrant woman in her 60’s with a wonderful personality.

Claudia’s main focus before COVID-19 was agricultural tourism. This pandemic has greatly affected her ability to hold tours and she felt that tours would be on hold until COVID-19 was resolved. One thing she has added to her business to help supplement the losses has been a vintage mailbox to leave orders in for a no contact pick up from either online or by phone purchases. Online Store

Having seen an increase of website traffic on her online store has been one positive of this pandemic that Claudia noticed. Ms. Estrada has some concerns upon resuming tours of her farm. Her plan for the return of guests depends on a few factors but she has made it clear she intends to continue with sanitization efforts to maintain the health of herself and those visiting this beautiful farm.

When asked her plan for reopening she indicated uncertainty on procedure in some things but believes a face mask requirment will still be in effect. Claudia also mentioned a possibility of going cashless as a means of preventing illness from spreading again. When tours resume, she believes holding smaller groups contained to families or under ten people will be the new policy. Truly it depends on the situation and safety she can provide for her guests and herself.

Boparai Farms

Link Above

I was able to have a lovely conversation with Dr. Kanwarjit Boparai, the owner of this organic olive farm and producer of gourmet olive oil, based in Lemoore CA. As a family run operation, this pandemic has hit them fairly hard. As the oil they sell is a niche product, their usual revenue is sourced in farmer’s markets and their online store. Having lost the ability to sell in a market, they’ve had to rely upon online sales.

Dr. Boparai stated that marketing his olive oil is the hardest part because of it’s unique niche. The pandemic has prevented him from expansion as labor costs are expensive and loosing half of his revenue source was a large hit. To support his store online follow the link>>> here.

As he is a local farmer and producer for my area, I asked Dr. Boparai to give some advice to the community to help farmers like himself. He said to buy produce from local stands and locally sourcing stores. One of the largest issues he and other small farmers face in this pandemic is marketing their products to a larger crowd. A larger corporate run farm can take losses better than a smaller family run operation.

How Can You Help In Your Area?

Wherever you are, buy local, buy small. Now more than ever we need to support the local growers and suppliers. Our economy took a major hit but none so much as the farmers. As we dig into this topic in the state of California keep in mind that this pandemic has affected the farming community as a whole.

Local farmer’s markets, produce stands and grocery stores that source from the local area are all excellent ways to support your community’s economy and food supply. When you buy small you are putting food on a family’s table and helping a community to grow. As society deals with the changes made by this pandemic we can only move forward while helping the little guy along the way.

In the interest of opening a global discussion, How has your local agricultural community been affected by this pandemic?

One thought on “COVID-19 and California’s Farmers. Part 1: Small Niche Farmers.

  1. Hello, thank you so much for the well written and informative blog posts on how the Covid has affected the farming Communities.

    Well done and greatly appreciated.

    God Bless, Stay Safe and 🐝 Well 😷

    Like

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