Loss of business due to mass closures of restaurants, schools and corporate cafeterias in response to COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders has small farms looking to collaborate as they try to adapt to the crisis by finding new markets and changing sales strategies, according to Ching Lee, an assistant editor of Ag Alert, published by the California Farm Bureau.
During a webinar last week aimed at helping farmers find solutions to market instability created by the pandemic, Evan Wiig of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers in Davis encouraged small farms to work together and aggregate their products, whether they’re working with farm stands, e-commerce sites, marketing co-ops or community-supported agriculture subscription boxes.
“I think everyone is swimming in confusion and uncertainty as to how long this is going to last, what are the long-term implications,” he said. “But what we are seeing … is this surge in direct selling.”
Farms, food hubs and other food businesses that have managed to shift to a CSA or food-box model “are seeing a huge amount of support,” said Ben Thomas, director of the CAFF farm-to-market program, adding that he anticipates demand for these services will continue to grow. Meal-kit deliveries also have expanded, along with demand for emergency food, he said, noting that organizations such as the Salvation Army have started delivery programs for meals and ingredient boxes.
Before COVID-19, CSA sales accounted for just 17 percent of the farm’s revenue, but the farm owners said they expect that to rise to 33 percent while wholesale and direct sales will drop from 50 percent to 42 percent and farmers market sales from 33 percent to 25 percent. They said they anticipate losing business from restaurants, caterers and events that use flowers, but they expect increased demand from farm stands, online grocers and nonprofit organizations. Future sales to grocers and bakeries remain uncertain, they said.
Wiig also encouraged farmers to be creative and build relationships with chefs, food bloggers and local influencers in the community who can help boost farm sales.
In an interview, Taylor Roschen, policy advocate for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said California allows both single- and multiple-farm CSAs, provided they are registered producers and grow what they sell. CSA boxes and deliveries must also be labeled with the origin of the farm or farms, she added.
San Diego County Farm Bureau resources for local produce, fruit and products
To stimulate direct farm-to-customer sales in its region, the San Diego County Farm Bureau has posted a list of nearly 80 farms, nurseries and wineries that offer direct sales. A listing is below.
Agriculture has declined during the last few years in San Diego County, but has represented the county’s fifth or sixth largest industry since 2000. San Diego has the 12th largest farm economy among counties in the nation. All this smack in the middle of a three million person urban area, and the nation’s sixth largest city.
Driving county agriculture were more than 6,500 small farms less than five acres in the early 2000s as well as a nursery industry with high value specialty crops. The county has ranked as high as first in the nation in the number of small farms and second in the nation in nursery crop value. in 2018, 69 percent of county farms were under 10 acres in size.
Te county ranks first in the nation for floriculture and sod value of sales and second in the nation for avocado acres. It also ranks first in the nation for largest number of USDA certified organic farms.
Overall, an average of $5,612 of value per acre at one time ranked the county as tops in California for agricultural value per acre. Over 12,300 workers were employed by county agricultural producers in 2018.
Direct economic output from agricultural production in San Diego county totaled $1,769,815,715, according to the 2018 San Diego County Crop Report. This equates to a 0.2% decrease from 2017’s total value of $1,774,206,410. The overall acreage devoted to commercial agriculture went from 243,029 acres in 2017 to 242,554 acres in 2018, for a 0.2% decrease overall.
Then came coronavirus.
“Our farmers are adapting to an ever-evolving situation that we are all dealing with right now, so they are implementing a number of different creative ideas to get their produce to the market and get fresh, local food into the hands of our population,” said Hannah Gbeh, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau.
North County farmers were adapting rapidly to the new normal, out of the box and out of necessity. Some of the local food outreach involves online produce orders, door-to-door delivery, farm stands and other services.
The shutdown of the farmers markets proved an unexpected windfall for Oceanside farmer Luke Girling, who runs Cyclops Farms on a 2.5-acre organic farm in the Fire Mountain area, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Before the farmers markets closed, about half of Girling’s business was done on Saturday mornings from the farmstand at the foot of his property at 1448 Avocado Road and the other half at the Sunday farmers market in Leucadia.
Pivoting quickly, Girling opened his home food stand on Sunday mornings, as well, and he promoted the new hours on his Facebook page. Perhaps driven by the market closures and the dearth of fresh produce in supermarkets, hundreds of shoppers turned up last weekend at the stand, more than doubling his usual sales for the week.
Hunter Depolo, owner of Behneman Farm in Valley Center, said he quickly switched from selling nearly all his crops at farm stands, to delivering produce to customers’ doors. The boxes include a mix of greens such as kale, chard and spinach, with citrus, avocados, and herbs, said Depolo, who grows the produce at his 10-acre Valley Center farm without pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers.
“With the markets closed, I’ve been putting it online and going to people’s houses,” Depolo said. “We have actually have been making more, surprisingly, but it’s a whole new thing.”
Since 1929, four generations of the Yasukochi family have farmed produce in North County, said farm owner Donal Yasukochi. Until last week, they sold about 90 percent of the farm’s produce — strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers — at farmers markets in San Diego, Orange and L.A. counties. When the markets closed, Yasukochi came up with the idea to beef up its produce box sales just for the weekend to clear out their overflowing walk-in cooler.
Then his daughter Brianne, the assistant women’s basketball coach at UC San Diego, posted on social media that the boxes were available for free delivery and sales skyrocketed. Overnight, they went from selling around 250 boxes a week to more than 500 boxes a day.
What follows is the Farm Bureau directory of San Diego County farmers and ranchers selling their products directly to consumers. To purchase products, please coordinate directly with the farm via the information provided below, as inventory may change on a daily basis.
5 BAR BEEF
Grass fed beef
Buy online at 5BARBEEF.COM.
AGUA DULCE FARM
Chula Vista (Pick up available in North Park, City Heights, Grant Hill, Sleep Bedder)
CSA boxes and local honey
To order visit AGUADULCEFARMSD.COM.
For more information, visit ASCHBRENNERACRES.COM.
BANTLE AVOCADO RANCH
Online delivery (Pick up available in Carlsbad)
Avocados and Lemons
To order visit AVOCADODUDE.COM.
BE WISE RANCH
To order visit BEWISERANCH.COM.
Follow on instagram @behneman_farm to see what is available for delivery.
BERNADINO LOERA FARMS
To order, text 760.445.0330
BERRYESSA FARMS FALLBROOK
Lemons, oranges, figs, swiss chard, bay, oregano
For more information, email SAMANTHABERRYESSA@ME.COM.
BLUE SKY RANCH
Alpine (Pick up available in Santee, Kensington, and Del Mar)
To order, visit HEALINGFROMTHEGROUNDUP.ORG.
CALIFORNIA AVOCADOS DIRECT
For more information, visit CALIFORNIAAVOCADOSDIRECT.COM.
For more information, visit LOCALONBUTTON.COM
To buy online, visit CARRISITORANCH.ORG.
COASTAL ROOTS FARM
Farm Stand open TH 12pm-3pm, Sunday 10am-3pm
Please note that the Farm Stand will be closed on Thursday April 9 and Thursday April 16 for Passover and that Farm Stand hours will be extended to 10am-5pm on Sunday April 12 and Sunday April 19.
For more information, visit COASTALROOTSFARM.ORG
Farm Stand open Saturdays 8:30am-12:30pm
For more information, visit CYCLOPSFARMS.COM.
San Diego (local delivery available)
Available for pickup and delivery. For more information visit DA-LE-RANCH.COM.
DIAMOND B RANCH
Pick up available in Escondido, Ramona, Warner Springs and Santa Ysabel
Local turkey and beef
Available for pickup at various locations. For more information visit DIAMONDB.ORG.
THE ECOLOGY CENTER
San Juan Capistrano
Farm Stand open for curbside pickup. For times and information visit THEECOLOGYCENTER.ORG.
Fallbrook (local delivery available)
Citrus, avocados, vegetables, honey, berries, eggs
Farm stand is open M-S 9am-5pm @ 2929 Mission Rd, Fallbrook
Buy online at ELISFARMS.COM
Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and more
Buy online at FARMERSDAUGHTEROLIVEOIL.COM.
THE FARM STAND WEST
Visit FACEBOOK.COM/FARMSTANDWEST for hours and location.
FOUR PALMS RANCH
Avocados, blueberries, lemons, and oranges
Buy online or subscribe to a CSA at LOCALHARVEST.ORG
THE GATHERING GROUNDS
Local raw honey and bee pollen
Email THEGATHERINGGROUNDS@GMAIL.COM for local delivery.
GOOD TASTE FARM
Local and Nationwide Delivery
For more information, visit GOODTASTEFARM.COM.
Buy online at HAMILTONRANCHDIRECT.COM.
HILLIKER’S RANCH FRESH EGGS
Available for local pickup. More information HERE.
JARED’S REAL FOOD
For time and locations visit JAREDSREALFOOD.COM.
Local pickup sites throughout the county
Order online at JRORGANICSFARM.COM.
To order, call 619.285.0769 (please no texts)
LA VIGNE FRUITS
Fruit and Jams
Buy online at LAVIGNEFRUITS.COM
LATH HOUSE GARDENS
For more information, visit LATHHOUSEGARDENS.COM or email LATHHOUSEGARDENS@GMAIL.COM.
MACIEL FAMILY FARMS
31952 Aquaduct Rd, Bonsall. Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, visit FACEBOOK.COM/PAGES/MACIEL-FAMILY-FARM.
Certified organic citrus and avocados
Call Jan Mahr at 760.421.8038
For more information, visit FACEBOOK.COM/SOURCEYOURFISH.
Drive-thru farm stand (orders must be made in advance)
Saturdays 9:00am-11:00am in April at New Roots main gate near 5332 Chollas Pkwy N, rain or shine.For more information, visit https://www.cityheightscdc.org/new-roots-produce/refugee-grown-produce-bags-78gkj
PIXCA URBAN FARM
Pickup locations available in San Ysidro, Chula Vista, National City and San Diego.
Produce and cut flowers
Buy online at PIXCA.ORG.
Pasture Raised Organic Chicken, Pork, Lamb, Beef, Eggs and Honey
Buy online at PRIMALPASTURES.COM.
San Diego (Limited delivery options available)
Buy online at QUANTUMMICROGREENS.COM
Del Mar (Local delivery available on Saturdays)
Produce, eggs, and more
See selection HERE. Saturday delivery or offer pickup at del mar city hall area for our regular customers.
Other arrangements can be made by texting 760.213.1436 or emailing us at RAYSUBTROPICAL@GMAIL.COM
Delivery to San Diego County
Citrus, grapes, raisins, juices, apples, apple sauce, avocados, eggs
Online ordering and delivery RNLFARMS.SQUARE.SITE
RODNEY KAWANO FARMS
Pick up locations throughout San Diego County
Follow on instagram @rodneykawanofarms to order a CSA or see where pick up locations are being held.
Avocados and Honey
Buy online at ROSSIRANCH.COM
SAGE HILL RANCH GARDENS
For more information about their Escondido farm stand, email SAGEHILLRANCHGARDENS@GMAIL.COM.
SAGE MOUNTAIN FARM
Pick up locations throughout San Diego County
For more information, visit SAGEMOUNTAINFARM.COM.
SAND N STRAW
Order online for pick up or subscribe to CSA at SANDNSTRAW.COM.
Delivery throughout San Diego County
Order online at SCINTILLAFARMS.COM.
SEABREEZE FAMILY FARMS
Delivery throughout San Diego County
Produce and juicing produce
Order online at SEABREEZED.COM.
Farm stand open Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays. For more information, visit SOLIDARITYFARMSD.COM.
Online delivery (pick up in San Diego)
Buy online at SON-RISERANCHSTORE.COM.
SUN GROWN ORGANICS
Sprouts and Microgreens
Buy online at SUNGROWNORGANICS.COM.
SWEET SPOT FARM
Buy online at THESWEETSPOT.FARM.
THREE SONS FARMS
Meat and Eggs, and partnering with other farms to offer additional produce
Free next day delivery. Visit THREESONSFARM.ORGto order.
TUNA HARBOR DOCKSIDE MARKET
Market open Saturday’s from 8am-1pm.
For more information visit THDOCKSIDEMARKET.COM.
To order, call 619.357.0540
VILLA MOSS FARM
To order, call or text (818) 720-4452.
For more information, visit WDDICKINSON.COM.
WE GOT BEEF JERKY
Gourmet beef jerky in a wide variety of flavors
Call 909.835.3578 or visit our instagram @wegotbeefjerky
$8 nationwide shipping
WILD WILLOW FARM
Local Delivery (Pick up available in University Heights, Imperial Beach, Ocean Beach, and Rolando)
For more information, visit WILDWILLOWFARM.ORG.
YASUKOCHI FAMILY FARM
For more information, visit YASUKOCHIFAMILYFARMS.COM.
ALTMAN SPECIALTY PLANTS
Succulents and Ornamentals
Buy online at ALTMANPLANTS.COM.
CAL PACIFIC ORCHID FARM
Information online at CALPACIFICORCHIDS.COM.
Lilac Bouquets. Poplar, Maple, Jerusalem Pine, Deodar Cedar, Manzanita, Pear, cold weather succulents, and raspberry plants coming soon!
Information online at FORTCROSS.COM.
In Local Stores
Visit KENDALL-FARMS.COM to find a retail store near you.
MOOSA CREEK NURSERY
Visit MOOSACREEKNURSERY.COM to find a store near you.
RAINBOW HILL PROTEA FARM
Buy online at RAINBOWPROTEA.COM.
Buy online at SHOP.CACTI.COM/SERRA-GARDENS/.
THE SUCCULENT SOURCE
Buy online at THESUCCULENTSOURCE.COM.
Buy online at ROCKAWAYSFLORIST.COM.
JAN’S NATURAL BODY AND BATH
Buy online at JANSNATURALBODYBATH.COM.
THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY
Soaps, balms, scrubs, and more
39807 Jones Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028
Buy online at THELANDOFMILKANDHONEYSOAP.COM.
Wine & Cider
ALTIPIANO VINEYARDS & WINERY
Buy wine online at ALTIPIANOVINEYARD.COM
Buy wine online at BROOKINGVINEYARDS.COM
Escondido (Local Delivery Available)
Buy wine online at CHEVALWINERY.COM
Offering door side delivery with 2 bottle minimum purchase
Curbside pickup available upon request.
Ramona (Online Delivery Available)
Curbside pickup and delivery available for order at CHUPAROSAVINEYARDS.COM
THE COVENANT VINEYARDS
Buy wine online at COVENANTWINES.COM
HIGHLAND VALLEY VINEYARDS
San Pasqual Valley
Buy wine online at HIGHLANDVALLEYVINEYARDS.COM
Open for carry-out bottles
JULIAN CIDER MILL
Julian (Online Delivery Available)
Buy cider online at JULIANCIDERMILL.COM.
Open for curbside service and UPS delivery
LA FINQUITA WINERY & VINEYARD
Ramona (Online Delivery Available)
Available for curbside pickup or delivery at LAFINQUITAWINERY.COM
MAHOGANY MOUNTAIN VINEYARD & WINERY
Buy wine online at MAHOGANYMOUNTAIN.COM
RANCHO GUEJITO VINEYARD
Buy wine online at RANCHOGUEJITOVINEYARD.COM. Free delivery offered.
SERENISSIMA VINEYARD & WINERY
Buy wine online at VINOTISO.COM
TREVI HILLS WINERY
Buy wine online at TREVIHILLSWINERY.COM
Escondido (Online Delivery Available)
Buy wine online for pickup or delivery at VESPERVINEYARDS.COM
VINEYARD GRANT JAMES
Ramona (Online Delivery Available)
Buy wine online or order for pickup at VINEYARDGRANTJAMES.COM
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