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Farmers scramble to meet dramatic increase in demand

'We’ve just seen people coming from all over asking what they can buy, when and where,"

FINCASTLE, Va. – The coronavirus pandemic is changing how people are getting access to fresh food.

Thornfield Farm in Fincastle grows vegetables, flowers, even their own meat and eggs.

Owner, Susanna Thornton explains that even though they are not able to sell at farmers markets right now, they still are seeing a dramatic increase in demand for their local products.

This year, Thornfield Farm expanded its premium service from 80 people to 120 people and there is now a waiting list of at least 60 people. That doesn’t even include their regular service.

Thornfield isn’t alone in this. Other local farmers are seeing numbers skyrocket and are having to adjust.

“Our farm community is small and tight and everyone has been seeing the same thing. We’ve all been talking to each other, trying to figure out how to create new online business platforms and really shift our sales to meet the current demand and atmosphere," said Thornton.

Thornfield has already had to shift their business model from primarily farmers markets to a new website where you can only pre-order produce and meat.

For the past three weeks they’ve updated the online store Sunday and by Monday its sold out.

They don’t want the momentum to stop, they’re just concerned because it’s very early in the growing season, and it’s getting harder to meet the demands.

Thornton said their farm is used to seeing a lot of interest in their produce during the high season, which is summer.

“With everybody at home and anxious about their food they’re looking for local sources from farmers that they know and so we’ve just seen people coming from all over asking what they can buy, when and where. So we’ve been really scrambling to meet that demand,” said Thornton.

The demand for vegetables isn’t the only thing that’s seeing an increase. Thornfield’s eggs, beef and lamb are increasing too.

Thornton believes by summer they will be able to better meet the demand.

When this is all over Thornton hopes people will still the major value local food is for their health and the local economy.

To order, click here. Pick-up are at designated locations, visit the farms website.


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