The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has altered everyone’s way of life. However, essential workers are still going to work. Farmers are one of those essential workers that are having to continue on with their days to help keep people fed during this pandemic.
In Whatcom County Dick Bedlington Farms is working to protect their workers, community members, and the food system.
All essential workers are supposed to practice social distancing and extra sanitation procedures. Farms are no different.
Melissa Bedlington, co-owner of Dick Bedlington Farms, says the farm has been put on lockdown, meaning no visitors or purchases can be done there. They have closed the office, but since they can’t just shut down, paperwork is done through the office window to help with social distancing.
They have held safety meetings so they can talk about hygiene and social distancing. For example, Bedlington says, the way lunch breaks are done is different. Most employees are eating in their vehicles. If they get dropped off or don’t have a vehicle, it’s one person per six-foot table in their break room.
“Just making them aware, is probably the biggest thing,” Bedlington said. She said the workers had heard of some of the impacts the virus was having and had a lot of concerns.
“The idea of work being shut down was scary for a lot of them,” Bedlington said. But she said she was able to reassure her workers that their business is essential and would not be shutting down.
Bedlington says employees are not to come into work if the employee or someone in their home is experiencing any illnesses. She added it’s important that their workers stay healthy during this time.
“We need our employees to continue farming, to be successful and to be able to get our crop in the ground,” she said.
Their planting season begins at the end of April/beginning of May, and without their workers they would not be able to meet that deadline. Bedlington says she’s out working alongside her employees to ensure health and safety.
Bedlington Farms is also working with local food banks so families in need are able to get food. Bedlington says they have been reaching out to food banks to see what the need is. They’ve already donated thousands of pounds of potatoes in two weeks. She said this time of year the need slows down and would maybe donate about 1,000 pounds to the Lynden food bank.