CCE Monroe distributes sanitizer, masks to local farms
On a brisk morning in May, a line of trucks formed at the Department of Public Works in Chili as farmers arrived to pick up hand sanitizer and masks in an event organized by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County.
Farmers gathered outside while waiting and chatted about the cold spring and crop forecasts for this year. When some of the Chili DPW employees joined in, the conversation turned to heavy machinery and equipment. The sanitizer drive gave participants an opportunity to socialize and network during difficult times.
Free hand sanitizer and masks, provided by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, were available to farms of any size and type, including farm stands, CSAs, greenhouses and U-Pick operations. Farmers market managers were invited to pick up the supplies for their staff and volunteers.
Assemblyman Harry Bronson, D-138th District; Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, R-133rd District; Monroe County Legislator Tracy DiFlorio, R-3rd District; and state Sen. Robert Ortt, R-62nd District, attended the event to lend a hand and meet the farmers.
Purchasing protective equipment, limiting the number of employees to assure social distancing and stopping operations for frequent sanitizing can be costly. According to Nate Savage, of Sunscape Farms, his expenses related to COVID-19 reached $3,000 by mid-June, and the cost for protective equipment, sanitizer and cleaning run at about $1,000 per week.
With two major drives and smaller individual deliveries, CCE Monroe distributed over 1,300 gallons of hand sanitizer and 2,500 masks worth over $57,000 to help alleviate some of this cost.
“Our collaboration with NYS Agriculture and Markets is essential to local food production and agritourism,” said Andrea Lista, executive director of CCE Monroe. “No farm is untouched by the pandemic or the economic fallout and we want to help.”
“It really helps us farmers to meet New York state regulations,” said Gail Miller, of Lehman Farms in Pittsford. “Free hand sanitizer and face masks save us money and support our efforts to do the right thing on our farms.”