Dear Spring Hill Members,
As we move closer to the vegetable harvest and delivery season, we want to update you on how Covid-19 is impacting the farm. Members of Spring Hill’s Core Group have met several times since March to discuss the pandemic and the farm’s response. At the heart of these discussions has been the goal of doing our best to protect the health of Spring Hill members, farmers and those who work at the farm.
To that end, we’ve made some difficult but necessary choices.
For the time-being, we are cancelling on-farm community activities, including Spring Hill’s beloved member-based harvest/delivery system. Instead, for the 2020 season, only Patty, Mike and Erin (perhaps with some limited hired help) will be working on the farm. They will pack the bags on delivery days using recommended safety protocols, and all the vegetables will be delivered to pick-up sites by one driver in a single van.
Spring Hill will also be instituting a set of protocols for the pick-up sites once the harvest season begins. You’ll get a note about this closer to the time when vegetable deliveries begin, but you can expect to be asked to use the provided hand sanitizer at the site, to wear a mask when you pick up your vegetables and to allow for social distancing at the pick-up site.
On the fun side, we would like to try a “pop -up” market this spring to offer some additional fruits of the farm! We will have rhubarb and would like to get it to you somehow! The idea looks something like this: we would take preorders for the rhubarb (no charge, quantity to be determined), deliver it to a central location or two, and offer you the opportunity to swing by for a contactless pick-up. If this works out, we can imagine continuing with this throughout the season, with things like garlic scapes, basil for pesto, etc.
Some of you have asked, “If we can’t come to the farm, what can we do to contribute?” Community has always been at the heart of Spring Hill and we certainly do not want that to change. As we support and care for each other during this time, here are a few things the farm needs:
1) We would like volunteer drivers (ideally 1-2 from each pick-up site) who could deliver a bag of vegetables from a pick-up site to a member’s home. We are anticipating that there will be some members needing home delivery for the season or just for a week or two.
2) We will also need a roster of volunteer drivers available to serve as a back-up to our hired driver/van. Depending on the situation, this could mean one person driving the farm van filled with vegetables to pick-up sites in the Twin Cities or perhaps a small fleet of drivers using their own vehicles to transport vegetables from the farm.
3) You could host a Spring Hill “pop-up” market this season. We would need space to set up our 10×10 tent in your yard or use of a garage for 2-3 hours. This could be a fun way to socialize – from a safe distance – with farmers and other farm members.
4) If you are able, consider contributing financially to help cover the extra delivery costs, perhaps the amount you would have paid in gas for a trip to the farm. It’s important for you to know that Spring Hill does have an Emergency Fund, established to cover unexpected, unpredictable situations (think tornado, farm accident – we weren’t imagining a pandemic!). With the change in vegetable delivery, this fund will be significantly depleted. While the farm will be okay for this season, we also acknowledge that we will lose a significant portion of our emergency cushion in using these funds.
This pandemic has brought to light so many issues in our country, including some glaring problems with our centralized food system. It has made very clear the importance of a robust, broad and healthy local food system and just how significant it is to have the support of a community of people like Spring Hill members. Thank you for everything you do.
We will miss connecting with you on harvest/delivery days. It’s no substitute, but we are regularly posting on Spring Hill’s Facebook page as a way of sharing what’s happening on the farm. We encourage you to post as well! If you have any questions at all, please feel free to get in touch with Mike or Patty or any one of Spring Hill’s Core Group members.
Mike & Patty with Spring Hill’s Core Group,
Brenda Beyer, Jessica Fischer, Nancy Dilts, Cathy Dolan, Wendy Fassett,
Marilyn Johnson, Bill Karns, Joe Knaeble, Michelle Grabowski, Erica Perl,
Dan Philippon, Katy Podolinsky, Larry Schmidt, Albert Veeder