It’s not so easy these days, finding bright spots amidst the gloom of home lockdowns, retail shutdowns, school closures, job layoffs, canceled festivals, and the sports-deficiency ennui that have become routine since March under the pall of the COVID-19 pandemic. But there are points of light to be found, here and there, if you look for them.
One such is the fact that farm shops, farmers markets and garden centers — sources of fresh air, locally grown food and plants — have been thriving.
“Business has been above usual this year,” said Ashley Vescera, garden center manager at Winterberry Gardens in Southington. “I want to say that the amount of people walking in has doubled.”
All of these businesses have had to make changes, though, to keep staff and customers safe.
“We’ve adapted a little to try to meet the customers’ demands” for a fuller shopping experience, said David Bujese, CFO of Lyman Orchards in Middlefield.
“We went from a farm stand and then in a matter of days, we reinvented our farm stand into a curbside model,” said Peter Rogers, president of Rogers Orchards.
Online ordering and payment, along with curbside pickup, are some of the ways these businesses have accommodated customers’ needs. The Durham Farmers Market has also adapted.
Then there are the vineyards in Wallingford, Gouveia’s and Paradise Hills, and the breweries in Southington, Witchdoctor and Kinsmen, along with Center Street Brewing in Wallingford, where outdoor seating has been allowing patrons to enjoy the nice weather. And Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort in Middlefield is up and running again, as is its restaurant, Fire at the Ridge.
But for those suffering from “pandemic head,” the best news may be that barber shops and hair salons are finally open again. With strict safety guidelines, of course.
All of this does not add up to normal — not even close — but these small steps give us hope that things are getting better. Gradually.