Like all of us, Red Dog Farm has experienced a lot of change due to the pandemic — from the resiliency of the community in which they serve to the flexibility they’ve had to find to meet …
Like all of us, Red Dog Farm has experienced a lot of change due to the pandemic — from the resiliency of the community in which they serve to the flexibility they’ve had to find to meet their market’s needs.
But when faced with adversity, they were able to thrive.
On 23 acres of fertile land situated in the Center Valley of Chimacum, the farm is a certified organic farm that grows more than 150 different varieties of vegetables, berries, cut flowers and plant starts.
“We have had to look at all of our farm systems and adapt to new safety protocols,” explained Rachel Covault, Red Dog Farm’s office manager.
“We learned that we could shift gears during the farm season, with completely flip-flopped market needs, and still be able to sell all of our produce.”
Red Dog Farm was able to feed the community with a demand for their CSA Program and Farmstand at an all-time high, becoming suddenly intense during the spring of last year.
“People were looking for a safer alternative to grocery stores for their food sources, and joining a CSA and visiting a farmstand can be very safe ways to obtain healthy produce. People were also concerned about the stability of their food supply and were turning to local food producers as a reliable source of food,” Covault said.
The farm signed up over two-and-a-half times as many CSA members as usual and they had to cap memberships for the first time in their program’s history.
“We added two more pickup points to reduce crowding,” Covault explained. “This year, our CSA program remains in high demand. Members are signing up earlier than usual, and our retention rate is higher than ever.”
“This support from our community was especially helpful as our sales to restaurants diminished significantly,” she added.
The Red Dog Farm Farmstand also saw an increase in demand and stayed open throughout the pandemic.
“The safety protocols we implemented helped our customers feel safe. For some of our customers, their trips to our farmstand was a highlight of their week during a difficult time,” Covault said.
Red Dog Farm remained steadfast in their service to the community, attending both the Port Townsend and the Chimacum farmers markets for the full season — despite COVID’s ever-present threat.
“Our sales started out slow,” Covault said. “But over the season gradually increased to normal volume.”
“Our market staff did an excellent job of adapting to the ever-changing rules and recommendations as we all learned more about how to reduce the spread of COVID.”
Holding the market outdoors helped reduce the risk of virus transmission.
And to reduce the number of people touching the produce, customers were asked to order their produce from the marketers instead of using the usual self-serve system.
“SNAP and EBT became important ways to buy food for more and more people impacted financially by the pandemic,” she said of the federal assistance programs. “Even though the market couldn’t have live entertainment or ready-made food, our customers were grateful to have access to good food in a relatively safe environment.”
As life starts to open back up and things begin to shape into some form of “normal,” Red Dog Farm has plenty to look forward to.
“The CSA growth has been wonderful for the farm and we plan to continue with our expanded membership,” Covault said.
“We’re very happy that restaurants have now resumed indoor dining. We look forward to when they can reopen at full capacity,” she said.
“There are many local restaurants, caterers and food carts that source produce from Red Dog Farm. We look forward to sending more produce their way as business picks up. We will continue to do what we do — produce and sell safe, healthy organic produce to our community.”
Whether it be from signing up for CSA memberships, shopping at the farmstand and farmers markets, or even buying produce that previously was less desirable, Cavault said the farm has found the community incredibly supportive.
“As a farm and as individuals, we felt valued to an extent we hadn’t felt before. Suddenly people seemed action-oriented about where their food was coming from and doing their part to ensure the future success of our local farm economy. We are so grateful for this positive community response,” she said.
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