August 24, 2020; Elyse Erdman
We were forced to shut down our Farm program in mid-March due to COVID-19 regulations. Since the Farm based program reopened on July 13, we have seen staff and program participants, called Growers, participating in safe measures that have kept everyone healthy and happy. This successful safe environment on the Farm is one that we had hoped for. With over a month of success, we can now expand our program from 4 groups of 3 Growers on the Farm daily, to 4 groups of 4. This will increase the opportunity for Growers to get back on the Farm with 20 additional slots per week. We hope that Growers and families embrace this small step toward "normalcy." Before our COVID-19 shutdown, we welcomed thirty-eight Growers to the Farm each day.
Beginning on September 21, 2020 we will welcome 16 Growers to the Farm each day, as compared to the 12 per day we had been welcoming since July 13. Safety precautions that we will continue enforcing include mandating all staff to wear masks and conduct COVID-19 screenings each day, and asking the Growers to wear masks, acknowledging that some of them can't. We ask families and residential staff to pre-screen the Growers before they send them to the Farm, and screen them again when they arrive. Growers and staff wash their hands often and social distance whenever possible. The 4 groups of Growers each have their own designated indoor space for rests between activities. Unfortunately, Growers will still not be going on community outings from the Farm.
We will continue daily Farm Zoom parties from 1-2 PM each week day. Growers enjoy seeing their friends through the screen and showing off their crafts, animals, gardens, and more. They are proud of the work they’ve done since returning to the Farm. They’ve been hard at work harvesting peaches, cherry tomatoes, pumpkins, and other produce to use in recipes. The animals at the Farm are finally getting the loving attention from their Growers that they missed during our shutdown.
Hope Springs Farm’s staff has done a phenomenal job at keeping the Farm running in a safe and effective manner. The ability to maintain and sustain the Farm program during these COVID-19 restrictions is attributed to them. The addition of one Grower per group each day on the Farm may seem like a small change, but it is a sign of hope for the future.
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