We have spent over a decade building this farm. We have invested everything in it. We left other careers (i.e., other income streams) to go “all in” on this lettuce peddling, culinary gardening, agricultural adventure.
We’ve had some tough times. We lived with our parents for years because we had no money. Every year we reinvested all our earnings back into this farm. We were in so much debt and struggling every year to get “in the black.” After that, we lived in (and ran a business out of) a cozy 1995 Sunshine singlewide that someone donated to us. But we believed in what we were doing, and we kept investing our time, sweat, and financial resources into this little dream of ours.
After many, many years we finally got to a place where we felt financially secure enough to build a house and take on a mortgage and buy a new delivery vehicle. Heck, we’ve even spent the last six months doubling our garden space, hiring new employees, and drafting a business plan for more expansion. And then … Corona Virus.
Honestly, we’ve been stressed about it for a few weeks. But we thought, surely, here in America, “the best country on Earth,” we were prepared to take on a virus. Surely this wasn’t going to spiral out of control. Surely the economy wasn’t going to grind to a screeching halt and endanger our livelihood that we have worked so, so hard to build.
But here we are. Our two biggest accounts sent us messages last Friday to let us know that they were out of business “indefinitely.” Several of our restaurant partners contacted us over the weekend to warn us that their volumes were down and they wouldn’t be ordering much (or anything) next week. Many more chefs cancelled their orders on Monday. It’s been one cancellation after another all week.
Our hearts are breaking right now for our friends in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Like us, the folks we work with are mom-and-pop, locally- and independently-owned operations. They have slim margins on a good week, and they are scared and struggling right now to stay afloat. And they have employees that rely on patrons (and tips!) for their security.
Here at Tucker Farms, we have the BEST team. A group of really, really bright, dependable, hardworking individuals who have become our second family. Whether or not we’re able to make restaurant deliveries, we want to take care of them and make sure they stay healthy and remain able to pay their bills. When things get “back to normal” we want them back to work full-time.
We know that students will return to school, resorts will reopen, conference centers will reschedule events, local restaurants will reopen their dining rooms, and caterers will rebook weddings, luncheons, and dinner parties. And we want to be there, with bountiful harvests, as soon as those doors reopen.
So we’re exploring all our options, staggering schedules, and pinching pennies. We will do everything in our power to keep growing, stay afloat, and take care of our team.
How can YOU help?
Support our new Salad Box CSA program! We are offering pick-ups in Rome and Calhoun this Saturday March 21. We plan to expand our reach to several locations in Atlanta, East Cobb, and Marietta next week!
If you know of a “farm box” or meal delivery service that might need some delicious lettuces, greens, or garden veggies, please ask them to contact us!
If you feel safe going out, buy a “to go” meal from your favorite local restaurant. Contact your local caterers and ask about meal deliveries or meal prep services. Check in with your favorite food truck to see if they are out-and-about.
If you don’t feel safe going out, follow your favorite local restaurants and farmers on social media. Ask if you can make a donation to help their employees or buy a gift card to enjoy later this year.
Contact your elected officials and ask them to prioritize support for farmers, food service workers, and the hospitality industry! We are the backbone of America, and we employ more people than the travel and vacation industries combined. (And, everyone needs to eat!)
With your support we will survive this impossible situation. Please look out for your neighbors. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands and be kind to each other.