I never want to feel how I felt on March 13, 2020, again.
Trying to fall asleep that night, thoughts were racing through my mind – What if Barstow’s is mandated to shut down? How will we support our team financially? What if our staff members get sick? What if we become a point of spread? What if the farmers get sick? Can the cows get COVID19? (they can’t). I hope the people I love are okay, I hope the businesses I love are okay, I hope our 215 year old family business will make it through this.
I think there was just one day of silence. As people moved out of their offices, loaded up on toilet paper, and settled in for the storm, at Barstow’s, crickets. We were scared.
And then, they came, YOU came!
We couldn’t keep up with demand for our homemade prepared foods so we hired another baker. We couldn’t keep up with the grocery orders so we hired someone just to answer the phone. Our driveway couldn’t take the volume so we re-paved our drive thru and installed an updated system. (big yay!)
Spring 2020 was an amazing time as people reconnected or discovered the natural spaces in our community like Skinner State Park, Lithia Springs, and Bachelor Brook. Sunday Flea Market business at Barstow’s was replaced with hikers, bikers, and boaters. At times the drive thru line was backed up to Route 47 (ahh!) We explored video farm education with our Pasture Day live stream and a virtual farm tour about the land, and one about the cows.
Thanksgiving surprised us when we hit record pie orders. And while December fell flat with canceled holiday parties through the month, we’ve already collected loads of sign ups for our Winter Soup CSA and our newly introduced 2021 Pie of the Month Club (yes there’s still time to sign up for both)! We are also taking orders for the first of four, upcoming Winter Dinners.
Spring on the farm held a lot more heartbreak. With restaurants, schools, and institutions shuttered, dairy producers lost 50% of our market in an instant. And while Americans couldn’t find a gallon in their grocery store, dairy farmers across the nation were dumping milk. In this time, our food system did not fail, but it revealed all the spots it was broken. Barstow’s Longview Farm was asked to reduce our production, and with sorrow, we sold some of our cows and tightened our belts (just when we thought they couldn’t get any tighter.)
Reflecting back on that time, I recall a constant panic. At every given moment it was simultaneously time to answer the phone, take the drive thru, update our info online, restock the fridge, sanitize the door knobs, and wash my hands. As Marketing Manager, I felt there was not enough I could do to express our GRATITUDE. There was no time to share that feeling during the day, so I stayed up late writing blog posts, press releases, scheduling Facebook posts, and pulling together newsletters. But by daylight hours, that is what you showed US. Thank you for your support, patience, and generosity in this uncertain and stressful year. We are SO grateful.
It’s important to us that you know: Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery would not be here, at the start of 2021, without you.
We’ve watched restaurants and businesses in our community close temporarily at the start, close now for the winter season, some have closed forever. Barstow’s will be closed the first week of January, as we always are, Jan. 1 – Jan 7. This week we’ll deep clean, catch up on projects, and have some time to recharge from a hectic year.
Last year’s heartaches and triumphs can go straight into the compost pile.
But keep in mind, our compost isn’t an idle landfill, it’s a dynamic space that takes pieces of our past and regenerates them into productive soil for our future. As tough as it was, it’s important not to forget what 2020 has done to shape our world into something better. Be it health and safety standards, connection to our local food and community, strengthening of our food systems, or racial justice, 2020 will leave a mark for many years to come.
From the Barstow family to yours, cheers to 2021!
The new year will bring new changes for our business, a new point of sale system and online ordering, to name a few! We look forward to another year of serving our greater neighborhood and producing safe, nutritious dairy foods for our region.
With sincerest gratitude and hope.
– Denise, Shannon, Kelly, Steve, David, and Steven Barstow
While at times 2020 felt dark, here are some stars that shone bright!
Our Community! thank you for the overwhelming and generous support of our amazing community!
Our Staff! this team really rose to the challenge. Thank you to our hard working, thoughtful, and friendly team at Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery and on Barstow’s Longview Farm!
Our Family! shout out to all the family in the store, on the farm, and around town who helped us to adapt to our new normal.
The Drive Thru! everyone thought we were nuts when we installed a drive thru window in 2008. Having this amenity makes serving customers safer and more efficient.