Small farms across Triangle experiencing ‘tremendous financial loss’ from coronavirus pandemic

Local News

BUNN, N.C. (WNCN) — Typically this time of year is busy for farms in the Triangle that rely on agritourism and agricultural education as a source of income.

Vollmer Farm in Bunn is one of the many spots that had no visitors on Saturday in the midst of Easter weekend.

The owner and operator of the farm, Russ Vollmer, said they grow blueberries and blackberries. The farm sells them wholesale, at their farm market, and for families to come pick themselves.

“It becomes a family tradition. It becomes an experience,” said Vollmer.

His farm, like several others across the country, keeps adapting to the changing times.

They swapped out tobacco fields for fruits and vegetables. Agricultural education is also now a big part of their business.

“Because not a lot of kids are growing up on a farm like in the past when I was a kid,” Vollmer said.

Early April usually kicks off their school programs. They also host festivals, a farm house where people can stay, and other events.

“We’re a pretty creative bunch as farmers because we’ve had to learn how to be creative and diversify our farms,” said Vollmer.

Farmers are familiar with bad weather devastating their crops, but Vollmer said the COVID-19 pandemic in ways is even worse.

“Our income is zero right now and of course we’re trying to figure out what our options are going to be and of course how long that’s going to be in place for us,” Vollmer said

He said the federal relief system is more designed for commodity growers and production loss, not farms like his.

“We are experiencing tremendous financial loss right now,” said Vollmer.

He said if they can get more support, they can come out of this even stronger.

Farms that supply restaurants are also taking a hit across the country.

Those that supply grocery stores are seeing an increase in sales. However, that doesn’t mean an increase in profits for everyone, as some of their prices are down.

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