While the COVID-19 pandemic was disastrous for many businesses, Local Homestead Products, at 2425 Marston Road in New Windsor, saw an increase in customers.
As chain grocery stores struggled to keep shelves stocked, Local Homestead stayed busy. Trevor Hoff and wife Victoria, Local Homestead owners, also teamed up with other Carroll County businesses early in the pandemic to help them sell their products at their on-farm market.
We caught up with Trevor Hoff to see how Local Homestead made it through the pandemic.
When did your business open and what is it most known for?
Our market opened on June 16, 2012.
What role does your business play in your community?
The market is a local source of foods for our community. We are open year-round and have fresh produce, meats dairy and so much more.
In addition, we have a free 5-acre playground, seasonal pick your own pumpkins and various on-farm events throughout the year.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your business?
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed our business to new heights. The pandemic quickly turned people to find a local food source as chain grocery store shelves were left bare. We met a lot of new customers that trusted our market as a safe and reliable food source.
What steps did you take to help your business survive the pandemic? Did you secure state/federal grants?
In order to effectively keep our farm going during the pandemic took a lot of work behind the scenes and adaptations to our operation! We opened our market for special ‘high risk shopper’ hours, began a curbside pickup option, hosted an on-foot, self-guided and socially distanced farm tour, and simply were full steam ahead to meet the needs of our customers!
Keeping our shelves stocked required a ton of effort from our entire crew — finding product and keeping our shelves full was the biggest struggle during the height of the pandemic.
As a business owner, what did you learn about yourself, your employees and/or your customers during the pandemic?
The pandemic really showed us just how dedicated our staff and our customers are to our farm. Our staff was willing to work long shifts and jump right in to any new COVID adaptations. We have an incredible crew and give them the biggest shout-out for working so hard with us to get through the pandemic and then some.
Our customers would wait in line for over two hours just to shop with us. During the height of the pandemic, the line would get longer every single day. It was intimidating but truly humbling to know the amount of support, trust and connection that people have with our farm.
Once we began to emerge from the pandemic, what changes made out of necessity did you do away with and what changes worked so well you will continue?
Through the pandemic, we put a pause on a lot of seasonal events. As we move forward, we hope to jump back in with more special event days that focus on agriculture education and bringing families directly to the farm.
During COVID we hosted an on-foot farm tour. This was self-guided and socially distanced, allowing guests to walk a trail around the farm and visit different stations. Stations such as pigs, cows, the corn maze, tractors and farm equipment all educated guests while being safe during the pandemic. This was a hit and we hope to offer more tour dates this summer and fall.
After a most uncertain 15 months for businesses, how do you feel your business is positioned for the future?
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We are very lucky to say that our farm is stronger than ever coming out of the pandemic. The past 15 months have been incredibly busy and fast-paced, but we are excited for the next months ahead. It truly takes a village, and COVID has showed us the truth to that.