Delaware farm markets adapting to changing landscape

Fifer’s Orchards employee Bryan Roscoe places a customers order in their car trunk on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

WYOMING — A regular visitor at Fifer Orchards for around three decades, Ann Anderson will miss the hugs and friendly conversations.

Instead, she plans to receive her asparagus, avocados, peach ice cream and more during a quick stop and go.

“It’s going to be very strange and I’m going to miss it,” Mrs. Anderson said this week after placing an order.

As COVID-19 worries continue for the foreseeable future, Fifer is taking orders online (fiferorchards.com) and handles payments via the phone. When customers arrive by appointment on Tuesdays and Fridays, employees load the goods into customers’ trunks before they drive away without leaving their vehicle.

A loyal Fifer patron, Ellen Trier figured she was among the first to place an order for pickup at the store on Allabands Mill Road.

“I will miss it but I think it’s better this way,” Mrs. Trier said. “I wasn’t quite comfortable with the thought of going inside the store because we’re in that senior citizen group that could be more vulnerable.”

In Bridgeville, Charlie Smith described farm operations as “going on as usual.”

At the TS Smith & Sons marketplace on Redden Road, however, there are cautionary signs on the door, marked six-foot spaces for social distancing and no more self-serve coffee. Everything is done takeout style.

It’s not ideal but Mr. Smith, a fourth-generation owner with brothers Tom and Matt, said the demand for milk, eggs and bread “has gone up quite a bit, especially eggs. We’re selling bread we’d normally use for the deli as well for some variety.”

Mr. Smith described tree fruits such as peaches, apples, cherries, Asian and Bartlett pears as “our calling card.”

Also, he said, “The market, surprisingly for me, has held steady and actually gone up some.”

The asparagus harvest is underway and strawberries will soon be available.

“The local growing season started about two weeks ahead of schedule and is off to a good start,” said Mike Fennemore, a fourth-generation Fifer owner along with his family.

“It’s nice to have the fresh flavors of spring and the beauty of the peach and apple blossoms to remind us that brighter days are ahead.”

Of course, it’s a new way of customer service at Fifer and subject to change.

“It’s a trial and error process this week as we figure out the best solutions.,” Mr. Fennemore said. “We will continue to research other techniques and tools to make the process easier. We’re taking it one day at a time and keeping the safety of our staff and customers the No. 1 mission.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 1 guidance

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