A Conversation with Farm.One About Coronavirus
Updated: Apr 25
For blog number two, we wanted to highlight a recent conversation we had with Farm.One about the impact that Coronavirus is having on their business.
Having worked alongside all sorts of farmers for over four years now, we’ve seen a lot of genuinely innovative farms growing delicious produce. Farm.One is certainly one of the coolest. They’re a vertical farming company based in New York City (currently exploring new locations), whose mission is to make fresh produce more available to urban populations.
We all know that COVID-19’s impact on the food industry has been far-reaching and devastating in so many cases. Farms and restaurants around the globe are facing dramatic declines in revenue, and are increasingly being forced to shut down. Every single food business has been affected to some extent; even the “lucky” ones that have been able to remain open are being forced to quickly implement changes to the way they do business.
Farm.One is no different. While they remain open and working harder than ever, they too have had to make significant changes to the way they operate. Paige Carter, Director of Experience at Farm.One, was kind enough to answer some of our questions about how Coronavirus is changing their business.
When asked how COVID-19 has already changed their business, Paige said quite directly “it’s changed a lot.” So much adjustment, in fact, that they’ve had to create a webpage specifically highlighting all of the changes they’ve implemented.
If you know anything about Farm.One, you know that in-person events, such as facility tours, classes, and tasting experiences at their edible bars, are a central component of their operations (and of their mission). Our friend Khalil Baba, who is the Creative Director at ibitefood, had this to say about his Farm.One experience: “I was truly impressed with the herbs and microgreens selection from Farm.One. The flavors were fresh and unique. A great experience.” We’ve attended several of Farm.One’s events at their TriBeCa NYC location, and emphatically agree with Khalil.
As you might expect, though, due to the #socialdistancing we’re all practicing, Farm.One’s in-person events have been suspended until at least May 29th, 2020. Until then, and in an effort to keep a connection with their customers, Farm.One is offering online events that we can enjoy safely from our homes.
Next, while we personally knew them to be one of the cleanest, most-ethical, and safest-run farms we’ve ever seen, in the times of COVID-19, Farm.One has upped their sanitation game even further. Here are a few of the bolstered safety measures they’ve recently adopted:
Workplace and employee sanitation measures have been dramatically increased; employees’ hands, surfaces, tools, etc. are regularly and meticulously cleaned.
Employees are working in staggered shifts to limit the number of people at the facility at once, and all employees are covered head-to-toe in Personal Protective Equipment (#PPE).
Employees regularly use alcohol wipes to clean personal items, like their phones, keys, earbuds, water bottles, etc.
The next area of their business that’s been forced to change, and that has changed for so many other farms, is who their primary customer is. In “normal” times, Farm.One sells most of its produce directly to restaurants. Now, though, because so many restaurants are closed/closing, Farm.One has had to ramp-up selling directly to individual consumers.
It’s worth noting that having to drastically change your sales and marketing strategy in just a couple of weeks is not easy to do. Luckily for One.Farm, they’ve adjusted well, and they’re seeing quite a bit of success in selling directly to individuals. Restaurants might be closed, but people still need to eat, and Farm.One is meeting their customers right where they are…at home!
When asked about the long-term impact that Coronavirus could have on Farm.One, Paige had a prescient response:
“I don't see how anyone can predict anything. It's our hope that we can fold the newer things we're currently doing (direct to consumer sales + at home experiences) in with our "normal" operations (restaurant sales + in person experiences). But who knows how the restaurant and events industry will or won't recover from this. We're trying to stay present and react to the information we have in the moment. It's really hard to plan for the future right now, with things changing so constantly.”
We hope that our peers in the food industry adopt a similar outlook to that of the one held by the folks at Farm.One. The unfortunate reality is, even the world’s leading infectious disease experts don’t know how long COVID-19 will continue on, so it’s important to remain open and adaptable, and to try new things (like experimenting with new customers, executing new marketing strategies, or deploying new tech, etc.)
As we mentioned in our first blog, “Food People, Don’t Waste This Crisis,” we sincerely hope that farms, restaurants, and other food businesses can come out of Coronavirus with some positives— and if not—at least emerge from it with some valuable lessons and perspectives. When asked about what good might come to Farm.One from this strange and uncertain time, Paige had this to say:
“We're definitely upping our game in terms of our online presence. Previously, most of our business was done by fostering face-to-face relationships, but now we have to do that all online… Another best case scenario would be that we come out of COVID-19 with new customers and additional revenue streams. However, we're very aware that what does well during a pandemic might not do as well during "normal" times.”
What’s most important here is that Farm.One is fully cognizant of the fact that even the potential positive outcomes brought about by COVID-19 are subject to change down the road. Remain nimble, listen to your customers, and adapt when demand calls for it.
When we asked Paige what the average person can do to help One.Farm sustain its business during the outbreak, her response was simple:
“If you’re in our delivery range of our Manhattan location, please try some of our fresh herbs (store.farm.one)! If you’re not in range, but have family or friends that are, buy them a gift card (https://farm.one/gift-cards). If none of those work for you, please follow us on Instagram and Twitter, and interact with us there!”
Finally, in an effort to keep things light, Farm.One has launched a new video series called Music for Plants. Yes, the lovely farmers at Farm.One sing to their plants. See below for the hilarious proof:
[video link] The Values
[video link] Vandiver
We at Bon Harvest would like to thank Farm.One and its brave employees for choosing to stay open during these uncertain and uneasy times.
Thanks for reading!
Be safe. Eat well.