Delicious Organic Vegetables Since 2001
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Current COVID-19 Policies on the Farm

Posted by: on Apr 14, 2020

Dear farm members and friends,

Here is where you can find out about our updated COVID-19 policies – we will be updating periodically with any changes!

Our regular practices include following stringent sanitation procedures as a GAP food safety certified farm.  As COVID-19 has unfolded, we have continually updated our procedures to include the best practices recommended by the CDC, and state and local authorities.    

In early March, we began implementing COVID-19 specific policies and procedures.   We continue to update our procedures and provide training to employees as the CDC’s, state and local recommendations change.

Packing crew filling boxes with fresh greens and goods.

Here is a snap-shot of our regular policies as well as our COVID-19 enhancements: 

  • Employees have always been trained and told to stay home when sick.  This is a required part of regular food safety training as part of GAP food safety certification.
  • In early March we began to provide additional training and guidance to employees regarding the symptoms of COVID-19, ways to avoid spreading COVID-19, and when to stay home from work and self-isolate or quarantine if an employee or contact contracts COVID-19.  We prepared a plan to notify individuals that an employee has come in contact with if any employee reports that they or a close contact were exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Hand washing.  We wash our hands a lot; we always have. Our policies and procedures contain detailed requirements for how and when employees wash their hands as part of GAP food safety certification.  We have plenty of soap and water with a designated hand washing sink in the packing department and at the farm offices in Montague and Granby, and in the fields in season.  GAP does not permit using hand sanitizer as a substitute for hand-washing. Our trash receptacles for paper towels are no touch.
  • Food contact and high use surfaces are regularly sanitized with bleach and other GAP recommended cleaning supplies in accordance with GAP food safety standards.   As of March 13th, we required increased sanitizing of frequent touch surfaces.
  • Gloves have always been stocked regularly for sanitary handling in the packing department. 
  • As of March 15th the majority of our office staff began working remotely.   We have made various accommodations for higher risk individuals and staff with children at home.
  • In-person meetings for remaining on-site staff have been held following the CDC’s recommended social distancing guidelines.  All department managers were instructed to set up and maintain work stations 6ft or more apart.  Frequent reminders regarding the social distancing protocols are provided.  Each department team has developed additional practices regarding social distancing and contact reduction that are unique to that department’s specific operation.  Employees continue to receive notice and training regarding policy changes and best practices via posters, email, and in-department training.
  • As of March 19th we shared our policy regarding picking-up and deliveries to our CSA and preorder customers.   Delivery drivers are required to wear masks at drop off, and change gloves between drop offs.  Drivers have been instructed to follow social distancing guidelines during deliveries. 
  • We are participating in farmers’ markets with new guidelines, including picking orders so customers are not handling food items, keeping set distances, and limited customers in market at a time. We use our protocols for sanitizing and handling food flow through our stand at the farmers market.
  • As of March 27th we posted information regarding paid time off under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  This Act became effective on April 1st.   We provided on-farm trainings for employees regarding the benefits available under this new program. We also continue with our regular paid sick time program that has been in place for years.
  • As of March 30th three-layer cloth masks were issued to all packing and retail employees. 
  • As of early April, field crew who did not already have their own masks or face coverings have received masks. My mum, Ella, has been very busy sewing.   
  • Our HR Manager has been emailing and checking in with all the employees frequently regarding policy changes and responding to questions and concerns in a timely manner. We have an open line of communication available for all staff to contact and communicate. We are sharing stress management and personal care resources too.
  • PYO fields are opening for the season in June, with specific guidelines for distancing, wearing a mask, handwashing and more. Check in in Granby to learn the details when you come to pick.

My mum with hand-sewn triple-layer masks for our crew.

CSA Farm Shares will be boxed for the beginning of the Summer CSA season, until guidelines and common sense allow for returning to our market-style pickups. We have piloted no-contact pickups over the spring, and have a good system down for folks coming to get shares to stay distanced from each other, and get their produce easily.

We will continue to monitor the recommendations from the CDC, and state and local government and change our practices accordingly.  Please reach out if you have questions!

Thank you,

Sarah, Ryan and the Red Fire Farm team.

Updated as of June 10, 2020. We will update again if policies change.