LEXINGTON, S.C. — Local farmers in the Midlands are changing the way they operate because of the coronavirus so they can serve the community in a different way.
"We are a small-scale non-certified organic market garden in Lexington County, South Carolina," said Jason Roland, the owner of Organically Roland.
With everything going on with the coronavirus pandemic, that's forced businesses like Roland's to change the way they do things.
"We sell, or at least did sell until the very recent past, we sell high-quality fruits and veggies to restaurants, chefs, and now with everything going on of course we're having to change into a home delivery system," explained Roland.
The service industry is feeling the impacts of the coronavirus after Governor McMaster announced all dine-in service to be shut down. In the meantime, restaurants have been doing carryout, curbside pickup, or delivery to continue to make some kind of profit.
With less customers coming to restaurants, this hurts farmers like Roland who give fresh produce to local chefs and businesses.
The farmer say it's been a big change for them but luckily they were prepared.
"I'm really thankfully for my wife because I was very apprehensive. She had the idea for us to start doing the home delivery CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) at the beginning of the year and I was apprehensive to do it because things were doing well with the chefs and markets were selling well."
While Roland wasn't sure about expanding his business to a different service, he says his grateful his wife Ami had the idea in the first place.
"I listened and I'm really glad I did because that had transferred to end up being about 15 to 20 percent of our business was doing the home delivery CSA and now it is 100 percent.
While Organically Roland has found a good way to make a profit, they're still taking a big hit due to COVID-19.
Roland says it's been a massive change going from large restaurant orders to having to go smaller with the boxes. They're taking about a 20 percent profit cut because of the coronavirus. They say they're thankful to the community because it could have been much worse.
"So far, we've had a lot of people reach out to us. I've had to put a cap on our boxes because we had so many people contacting us wanting one," said Roland. "It is still a small cut in the profits but the community is really helping us to make it and I'm thankful for it."
While Organically Roland has been working to feel orders for their customers, they're also looking for ways to help out the community.
"We're trying to help out all the folks in the restaurant business as much as we can. That is an offer I have extended to all of our chefs we've worked with and it extends with anybody," said Roland. "That extends to anybody who's lost their job or are having a hard time because of everything going on because of the coronavirus. We are happy to offer free vegetables to anybody that needs them, that need to be fed."
With some of the restaurants the farmer has worked with, he's offering deeply discounted or free produce. One of the reasons he wants to help these restaurants is to return the favor. Roland says a lot of these restaurants took a chance on him when he was first getting started when they could have bought from someone else.
"It's just the right thing to do. Whenever somebody is struggling, I think a lot of people forget that whenever there's a bad time or something going on like that, we need to try and rally around each other as much as possible and help out the man that's down."
Roland is hoping everything will get to normal sooner than later. He says if you know of someone who needs help with food, get in contact with him and he'll do what he can to help or point someone in the right direction.
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture has a list of ways the community can help out local farmers while the coronavirus situation continues. To find out how you can help, click here.