The Kula Farm during the Coronavirus epidemic
The Coronavirus has sure had an impact on The Farm. We did not make any sales during the month of April as the restaurants that we supply had to close their doors. We soon, however, shifted gears along with the rest of the agricultural world and understood that it would work out in the end because you can’t eat toilet paper. We converted from supplying restaurants to opening up for sales to the public. We were able to make up for a large part of our revenue by doing so. We created an online store to limit contact to protect both our customers and staff.
The reception from the public was wonderful, we thank all of the people that take the time to come out and support our growing operation by shopping local. We are still working to meet the demands for the home gardening trend. From here on out we want to work to be a resource by supplying knowledge, seeds and plants.
Now, as restaurants are reopening, sales are picking up and we might just come out of this stronger than before.
While we used to encourage people to stop by at any time, we now mostly keep our front gate closed. We are only open on Fridays between 11am to 4pm for those who have placed an order ahead of time by email or via our online store. We recently also started offering delivery for a small fee on Saturday mornings.
We have been fortunate that none of our staff have contracted the virus. We did have to make some changes in our daily operations as outlined by the NJ Department of Agriculture. In addition to our usual routine of regular hand washing and sanitizing, we began wearing face masks (provided by Grown in Monmouth) and remained dedicated to social distancing. Luckily we’re mostly an outdoor facility, while our greenhouse doors and windows remain open throughout the day for proper ventilation.
The short term training program “the Kula Farm Experience” has been put on hold to limit the amount of people at The Farm. We continue to train a few local long term workers but alternate schedules to avoid the somewhat awkward sidesteps each time when passing by.
There were big plans for this years’ Farm to Table season. We miss having guests at our long dinner table. Unfortunately we cannot meet the 6ft distance requirement and decided to postpone the dinners until who knows when… All events actually; workshops, tours, our open house, and school classes have been postponed/cancelled as well. However, we did host a live workshop online on Youtube, and provided a Zoom session for a local high school. We have plans for more of these events in the months to come. We also recently hired a new teacher to build our educational curriculum.
Our gardens are greener than ever due to the beautiful spring and summer. The sunny days and regular showers passing by make it a wonderful environment. The Farm Without Borders on Springwood Avenue (between Atkins Avenue and Avenue A) is open as always for those in need. Area residents can pick their own fruits, roots and all kinds of greens. Meanwhile we have been donating a ton of fresh organic vegetables to the next door food pantry run by the Bethel AME Church. We have an agreement where we get to farm their land in exchange for regular donations. Sadly, the line for the pantry that cues up in front of our farm every Wednesday morning is longer than ever.
We received a large plant donation from Hockhockson Farm in Colts Neck (The one by Tracy STEWART, Jon’s wife). A gardening project seems to have somehow fell through because of the virus. We were able to redistribute over 70 flats of vegetables to the many community, church and food pantry gardens in Monmouth County. This season we have witnessed great collective action behind food access from the work of area churches, food pantries and soup kitchens as well as The Asbury Park Dinner Table project. We continue to support the Dinner Table project to this day. They all do so much to bring fresh food to those affected by economic injustice or social circumstance.
We also continue to welcome area residents to drop off compost at our community compost site behind the old turf club on the corner of Springwood and Atkins Avenue. Stop by to see the new mural put up by Springwood Avenue Rising (and the mural put up by a mystery artist about social distancing).
Please note that all are required to wear a face mask and keep 6ft distance when visiting the farm and its gardens.