And, while finding farm workers is always challenging, Chuck says that any COVID-19-related obstacles in 2020 were overcome by farmers helping farmers and local volunteers. The couple’s son, Dan, also helps on the family’s farm.“We had people helping each other. There was more available labor locally with people working when they could. People were working and had a good attitude,” he says. “Farmers were also helping each other with labor issues.”
Tami adds, “We had an interesting workforce in the spring of 2020 as we were trying to get our crops planted. We needed workers and our H2A agricultural workers could not get here on time because ofthe pandemic. We employed retired folks, local laid off workers, workers shared with other farms, and we even had some neighbors who volunteered to help us plant potatoes. It was nice to see everyone working together.”
Unfortunately, a shortage of available labor, along with shortages of supplies such as cardboard bins, plastic berry containers and bags forced the Mohlers to limit their opening hours this year.
Their North Webster farmers market is only open on Fridays and Saturday. Their other Sweet Corn Charlie’s Produce markets are operating on a four-day schedule and are closed Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays.
When their farmers markets are open, consumers can find the freshest fruits and vegetables, often earlier in the season than many other farmers.
By planting transplants into high tunnels, the Mohlers are able to extend their growing season on both ends. The farming practice, which they adopted in the 1980s, allows the Mohlers to bring their sweet corn crop to the market about three weeks before other area farms. Their tomato crop hits the market two months early using the same approach.
Lengthening the season for fresh produce is the strategy the Mohlers have used to successfully compete in the fresh fruit and vegetable market for 33 years.