[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
CANFIELD — Each spring, as the crisp winter weather fades and the flowers start to bloom, folks from across Northeast Ohio head to White House Fruit Farm for fresh produce, famous doughnuts and festivals.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has changed the way White House Fruit Farm will operate this spring.
White House Fruit Farm’s market reopened to walk-in customers May 7 with new health and safety procedures. Debbie Pifer, co-owner, said the market is operating every other register and has both a cart and hand sanitizing station.
Additionally, the staff is wearing masks and gloves, sanitizing high-touch areas, washing hands frequently and monitoring temperatures, according to White House Fruit Farm’s Facebook page.
That page also requested customers wear masks, utilize sanitizing stations, maintain a social distance of 6 feet between each other and limit the number of family members inside the market.
“We certainly don’t want to be the mask police, but we feel it’s everybody’s responsibility to contribute to safety, so we are asking folks to wear them,” Pifer said.
Although White House Fruit Farm relied solely on curbside pick-up orders in April, Pifer said the service will be discontinued in the next few weeks.
According to Pifer, there isn’t enough staff to have both the curbside pick-up and the market open, but customers with orders of $25 or more can still order curbside pick-up at this time, Monday through Friday only.
“We just can’t continue to do both reliably,” Pifer said.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how White House Fruit Farm operates, Pifer said there haven’t been staff layoffs. In fact, staff has been increased.
“During curbside, we employed our full staff, 40 hours a week. We were extremely busy,” Pifer said. “I've actually brought a lot of my college help back in.”
Currently, White House Fruit Farm is harvesting asparagus and rhubarb as apple blossoms cover the trees.
Pifer said some seasonal produce from the fruit farm this summer will be strawberries in June and blueberries — as well as the vegetable season — in July.
Pifer described the newly reopened market as “very, very, very busy” making sure customers can get their usual White House Fruit Farm favorites.
“[Customers are buying] the same things they normally do. Lots of basic foods, obviously, and lots of jarred goods. All the things we sold before we are selling now,” she said.
Another big shift at White House Fruit Farm is the cancelation of a variety of spring and summer events, along with some postponements. As of now, the annual Strawberry Festival is canceled and the White House Summer Music Series 2020 is postponed until further notice.
“At this point, it doesn't look Like the mandates will allow us to do anything with super large crowds,” Pifer said.
Customers can still look forward to strawberry picking in June, however, so long as social distancing protocols are followed.
“As long as there's enough strawberries, [picking] will go on,” Pifer said. “And of course, being outside is the very best thing.”
White House Fruit Farm’s current hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Visit their website for updates on events and curbside pick-up.