My Economy

Coronavirus is driving people to one family farm

Andie Corban Oct 15, 2020
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
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
Heard on:
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.”

Let us know how your economy is doing using the form below, and your story may be featured on a future edition of “My Economy.”









We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.