COVID-19 Safety & Procedures

As COVID-19 continues to affect our daily routines, the New Roots team from Cultivate KC and Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas is developing a plan for the season that prioritizes the safety of our farmers, staff, and customers. Food safety has always been a priority for our program, and we’re reevaluating all of our practices to ensure it’s our top priority. 

Like others, we are following recommendations from the CDC, regarding hygiene practices, and are monitoring updates from both national (USDAFDA) and local food safety experts about additional precautions. According to all 3 of these sources, there is currently no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Everyone needs to eat, and we feel that New Roots for Refugees, and our network of over 20 graduate farmers, can play a crucial role in feeding our community during this time.

Read through our program’s safety and procedures by navigating the tabs below. This list will continue to be updated as we learn more about the pandemic. 

FEAST Magazine

New Roots farmers are not the only ones affected by the pandemic. Check out this FEAST article about how other Kansas-City area farms, including Juniper Gardens, are adapting to COVID-19

Here is a list of  programmatic changes we’ve made in response to COVID-19:

  • We have cancelled all classes and in-person meetings. 
  • Volunteers are suspended from coming to the farm
  • Staff calls or texts farmers every week to ask about their health and share updates about our safety measures. 
  • All staff are working from home and not using shared-office spaces
  • Farmers and staff practice social distancing at the farm, staying 6 ft away from each other at all times.
  • Hand washing supplies are available at the handwashing station and produce washstand. Farmers wash their hands often, following CDC directions.
  • All shared surfaces are cleaned and sanitized with a bleach solution after use (doorknobs, faucets, tools).
  • Since April 24, masks are required at Juniper Gardens Training Farm unless a farmer is within the perimeter of their own plot. Anyone using a shared tool must wear a mask while using it. Farmers were provided 2-3 masks each. 
  • Our greenhouse has been closed to farmers since April 27. 
  • Farmers may only have two helpers (from their household) onsite with them, and those helpers must remain on the farmer’s plot. 
  • If a farmer tests positive for COVID-19 or experiences symptoms thereof, they will quarantine at home and not come to the farm until they have tested negative or been symptom-free for 8 days.

Our protocol for harvesting is outlined here. This list has been translated into farmers’ native languages and are posted on the farm: 

  • If you are feeling sick (cold, cough, sneezing, sore throat, achy, fever) or have been around someone who is feeling sick– you should not harvest or handle any produce. 
  • Maintain social distancing at washstand (at least 6 feet apart) 
  • Before harvesting you must wash your hands following standard protocol – 20 seconds with soap and water. If your hands get dirty while harvesting—if you sneeze into them, touch your face, use the restroom, or contact poop- you must wash them again before continuing to harvest. 
  • Produce should be harvested using cleaned and sanitized harvest tools (knives, scissors, etc.,) and only placed into clean harvest totes (that serve no other purpose) 
  • After harvest, items will be placed in the shade or in refrigeration, out of direct sunlight. 
  • Clean harvest totes and tools after each use – scrub with dish soap, sponge or brush, rise, then spray with sanitizer and air dry.

A schedule for the washstand has been made to reduce traffic around the washstand. Only 4 people may use the washstand at a time, and everyone must remain 6 ft apart.

Our protocol for washing produce is outlined here. This list has been translated into farmers’ native languages and are posted on the farm: 

  • After arriving at the washstand with produce, wash hands again for 20 seconds with soap and water 
  • Using dish soap, wash and scrub down the wash area, rinse.   
  • Spray vegetables to rinse off any dirt, debris, etc. 
  • If vegetables need to be dunked in water (leafy greens), be sure to change out the water after each batch of produce, repeat Step B above before dunking the next batch   
  • Once finished with the washstand, wash area again with dish soap, scrubbing surfaces and rinsing thoroughly   
  • Spray any common surfaces with sanitizer (including your wash area, faucets, the hose, door handles, table spaces, etc.) 

Farmers and staff follow these rules while packing and delivering produce:

  • Wear a mask at all times
  • Wash your hands and put on gloves before handling produce
  • All packing must take place outside, six feet apart. This includes weighing, bunching, and packing vegetables.
  • No more than one person is allowed in the cooler at a time
  • All weighing scales must be sanitized before and after use
  • All touched surfaces must be sanitized before and after use (doorknobs, tables, etc.)
  • Wipe down touched surfaces in the delivery truck before and after shift (steering wheel, dashboard, handles, etc.

Since COVID-19, New Roots has been providing curbside pick-up at all of our Farm Share locations  in order to limit personal interactions. This includes:

  • pre-packing vegetables into paper bags
  • setting up an outdoor table/tent at each location 
  • customers picking up their vegetables without getting out of their cars 
  • staff/volunteers wearing a mask and gloves during pick-up times

Farm Share members also have the opportunity to sign-up for home delivery through our partner Pantry Goods. Click here for more information.