MONROE CO., N.Y. — On a brisk morning in May, well ahead of schedule, a line of trucks was already forming at the Department of Public Works in Chili. Farmers, known for being early birds, arrived to pick up a supply of hand sanitizer and masks for their farms. This was a distribution event organized by CCE-Monroe to benefit the health and safety of Monroe County farmers, their families, and employees.
While waiting, farmers gathered outside and chatted about farm matters such as the unusually cold spring and the crop forecasts for this year. But when some of the Chili DPW employees joined in, the conversation turned to the heavy machinery and equipment – a familiar subject for them all. The sanitizer drive gave participants a rare opportunity to socialize and network during these difficult times!
Free hand sanitizer and masks, provided by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, were available to farms of any size and type, including farm stands, CSAs, greenhouses, and U-Pick operations. Farmers’ market managers were also invited to come and get the supplies for their staff and volunteers.
To show their support several officials attended. These included NYS Assembly members Marjorie Byrnes and Harry Bronson, NYS Senator Robert Ortt, and our County Legislator Tracy DiFlorio, all lending their hand and enjoying meeting the farmers.
Purchasing protective equipment, limiting number of employees to assure social distancing and stopping operations for frequent sanitizing can be costly. According to Nate Savage of Sunscape Farms, his COVID-19 related expenses reached $3000 by mid-June and the cost for protective equipment, sanitizer, and cleaning run at about $1,000 per week. With two major drives and smaller individual deliveries, CCE-Monroe distributed over 1300 gallons of hand sanitizer and 2500 masks worth over $57,000 to help alleviate some of this cost.
“Our collaboration with NYS Agriculture and Markets is essential to local food production and agritourism. No farm is untouched by the pandemic or the economic fallout and we want to help,” said Andrea Lista, Executive Director, CCE-Monroe.
Without exception, every farmer expressed gratitude for the CCE’s effort the help them safely carry out their operations during these challenging times.
Gail Miller of Lehman Farm summed it all up. “It really helps us farmers to meet New York State regulations; free hand sanitizer and face masks save us money and support our efforts to do the right thing on our farms. This is absolutely awesome!”
Nothing can be more rewarding than helping local farmers thrive!
–Cornell Cooperative Extension Monroe County
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