As I look into the rearview mirror and see that 2020’s dangling mask has replaced the pine scented deodorizer, there are so many emotions. On one hand, I feel relieved that this year is in the books and on the other I am grateful for what 2020 brought to me and our farm. Our greenhouse survived the global pandemic, and we were able to shift our platform to accommodate curbside pick-up and also offer delivery. We increased our retail customer base while the restaurants slowed down. We were fortunate to be able to keep supplying the local restaurants at their reduced capacity with fresh local produce and eggs.
CB Acai located in Olney joined our network of local businesses, providing freshly made bowls and salads. We also added The Turn House in Columbia, while maintaining Three Brothers and The Little Chickadee both in Laurel and GrillMarx in Olney. We are extremely grateful and humbled to be able to provide fresh, local and sustainable produce to the community. We donated over 13 times to Manna during 2020 hoping to make a dent in those with food insecurities. 2020 also presented many challenges for us as a “new” farm, we incurred a lot of costs to become Covid compliant, switching to our e-commerce platform, masks, hand sanitizers, signage and the temporary closure of Sister Axe. We were awarded some grant money to keep our farm manager employed and to shift into the “new normal”.
At home we shifted to online learning by converting the dining room into a classroom for our youngest and one came home from college to continue her studies remotely. I am grateful for the family time we were able to gain. We learned how to Zoom and use Google Classroom. Home workouts became an added adventure. We had many more meals together, puzzles, card games, walks, hikes, home hair coloring and morning coffee on the back porch. All things that we did before in a rush to get to a sporting event, school or the next thing on the calendar. In many ways it was great to slow down.
July presented a whole new set of circumstances. My sister Angie and I lost our father. While he didn’t have Covid it certainly affected our ability to have the traditional closure to losing a loved one. Dad actually started us on this farm journey as that was his life’s work and as children, we learned so much of our work ethic from him. I am certain that he is pleased that his three children are all still tied to farming and passing that down to our own children. So, 2020 while I am glad to have survived all the challenges, I am ready to move forward.
What is in store for 2021 at Bella Vita Farm?
We are still growing at full capacity in the greenhouse and we are going to be expanding our growing space and adding a full complement of culinary herbs and more variety of greens. Soon we can offer some of our tilapia for sale – they are almost big enough to eat! We will be posting some favorite recipes and photos from our customers and our own kitchens. We plan to include some nutritional information and uses for our fresh microgreens and other veggies.
We increased our flock of chickens recently to 300 happy hens and we have lots of fresh brown eggs for your baking, your breakfast, and your snacking. If you haven’t tried a farm fresh egg you don’t know what you are missing. Our chickens are outside all day, snacking on bugs, grasses and greenhouse extras.
During the pandemic we added an outdoor honor fridge that holds eggs, lettuce and kale all available 24/7 and will continue into 2021. We have plans to expand our outdoor growing beds and garden starting in the spring to provide a wider variety of vegetables and hopefully some melons!
Sister Axe is open for outdoor and open-air activity. Angie is working hard to provide that “something to do” for you and your family. We are focusing on small groups and families throughout the winter months. We look forward to the day when we can see your unmasked smiles again. Until then we are grateful for smiling eyes, elbow bumps and air high fives.
Looking for a way to be the better version of yourself in 2021? Start by giving your body the clean fuel it deserves. Move by adding exercise to your day. Drink lots of water. Be grateful. Small steps that become easy everyday habits are a great way for a resolution solution.
We are grateful for you.
Shop local. Eat clean. Be well.