LONG BEACH, Calif. — Farmers are losing many of their long-term customers and they cannot take a break, but without constant care, their crops could wither and die.
What You Need To Know
- Many farmers are facing dwindling sales
- Vendors at the Harbor Area Farmers Markets are donating their unsold produce
- These farm boxes are distributed to Long Beach restaurants so they can end up in the hands of unemployed & furloughed workers
- The composition of the farm boxes changes as sales and seasons change
Even though vendors like Vince Bernard bring less to the Harbor Area Farmer's Markets, there is more left unsold at the end of each day. Bernard is the owner of Bernard Ranches, 50 acres of citrus groves in Riverside.
“Different, everything is different. Sales are different, too. Sales are way down,” said Bernard.
Winter would normally be a busy time, but with restaurants closed, most commercial orders have disappeared. Deepening the pain is the fact there are less people at farmers markets and less markets to go to nowadays. The grim reality has led to many sleepless nights.
“Bills never stop. We have cut out everything we can. I have told everybody you do not spend a nickel unless I approve it. There are some bills you can’t get away from,” said Bernard.
The hurting farming community has found a way to help another suffering community.
Bernard and others have filled boxes with unsold produce and delivered them to Long Beach restaurants who then deliver the boxes to out-of-work servers and food workers.
Jason Van Fleet is the owner of Dutch’s Brewhouse, which received multiple farm boxes. He said half the staff is furloughed and there is little help for employees told to stay home.
“This round they just shut us down and there’s nothing really coming. Not that I am asking, begging, or stealing from anybody, but at the same time the reality’s on the wall. This is just going to be a dark, dark winter for us,” said Van Fleet.
What is inside the farm boxes changes every day, but they ensure food will not go wasted.
“The greatest thing is I want somebody to use my fruit. I don’t want to lose it, just drop it on the ground and let it go,” said Bernard.
It may not be the cash crop he wants, but it is certainly the gift so many need.
For more information about the Harbor Area Farmer's Market, to make orders or to make a donation, visit: https://www.goodveg.org.