When the pandemic first hit in Ohio, Debbie Pifer knew her year-round farm market, White House Fruit Farm, was going to be busy. She also knew that she and other agricultural businesses in Mahoning County were going to need a lot of personal protection equipment, hand sanitizers and disinfectants.
Also knowing this was Mahoning County Farm Bureau, local Extension and county commissioners. The three groups worked together to come up with a plan to safely keep the local economy going. County commissioners set aside $55,000 to help farm markets and agri-tainment locations by providing free PPE and COVID-related signage as well as promoting buying local.
“We’re very appreciative of all Farm Bureau’s efforts. We’ve been slammed since the middle of March because local businesses are what pull people through tough times. They helped get the wipes and sanitizers we needed, and the promotion of buying local has been huge this year because the more customers know we’re open, the better off we all are,” said Pifer, owner of the third generation farm market, which is an Ohio Farm Bureau group member.
OSU Extension took the lead on reaching out to county commissioners for financial help for the ag community, and Mahoning County Farm Bureau provided the names of ag-related businesses based on its buying local list. Farm Bureau staff even delivered PPE and COVID signage to Amish businesses reluctant to take a handout, explaining it was part of their Farm Bureau membership. The bulk of the funds was spent on advertising about 55 local farm markets and agritainment businesses on TV, in newspapers and on social media.
“This is a great example of how Farm Bureau is in touch with the needs of its members and takes action. Collaboration is a big part of Farm Bureau and we were proud to partner with Extension and county commissioners on this worthy project,” said Nick Kennedy, Farm Bureau organization director for Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage and Stark counties.
Photo: Supporting buy local is Kristen Eisenhauer, 4-H Youth Development/Agriculture and Natural Resources educator.