My Economy

Coronavirus is driving people to one family farm

Andie Corban Oct 15, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Al Rose says in New England, people associate fall with going apple-picking. Sean Gallup/Getty Images
My Economy

Coronavirus is driving people to one family farm

Andie Corban Oct 15, 2020
Al Rose says in New England, people associate fall with going apple-picking. Sean Gallup/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

Fall is by far the busiest time of year for Al Rose’s business, Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, Massachusetts. “When it comes to fall, especially in New England, everyone identifies with that rite to passage of going apple-picking or having hot cider doughnuts,” Rose said. He wasn’t sure what demand would look like this year because of coronavirus.

“Looking out ahead of the fall, being that is our lion’s share of our income, we were quickly trying to figure out what other adaptations we had to make,” he said. He rented four hand-washing sinks to put around the farm and created an online reservation system for people to reserve times to pick apples, pumpkins and other produce.

Three generations of the Rose family, including Al, left. (Courtesy of Al Rose)

“The demand has been kind of through the roof, it’s been unprecedented,” Rose said. “We weren’t expecting the same business in the fall, but the demand from Labor Day weekend was huge, probably 50% higher.”

In addition to pick-your-own apples, Red Apple Farm has offered dig-your-own potatoes for around 20 years, Rose said. Usually, it was mostly school groups on field trips that participated. But this year, Rose said people were “ecstatic” about it.

“We had well over 500 people dig [their] own potatoes this year,” he said. “We know next year we’re gonna have to double our potato field.”

Despite the demand for pick-your-own this year, Red Apple Farm has faced some negative consequences from the pandemic. They had to refund some customers who had scheduled weddings on the farm, and aren’t doing the usual hayrides this season. However, Rose is optimistic about how this year is turning out.

“This happened in 2001, with 9/11. We had a lot of people that came to the farm,” he said. “People needed to connect with something that was tangible, and there was a security and authenticity of being at a farm. We’re seeing that this year with COVID as well. The farm really resonates with people.”

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COVID-19 Economy FAQs

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

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