So many of you have been calling, emailing, etc. asking about our out-of-town roadside trucks, wanting to know where are we? When are we going to be there? What’s happened?
Hopefully we can explain what is going on this year. Farming is challenging and no year is the same. That means the Cooper family has to constantly adapt to change in order to continue growing for our faithful customers year after year. This year is no exception. In fact this year, we are having to make major shifts in how we get our peaches to you because of many factors.
The first factor is labor. In the past we have had an excellent labor pool in the way of high-school and college students. These hardworking teenagers have committed their summers to us to earn money for college. Since we only need this extra labor in the summer months, it has worked out for us the past 30 years. They have a summer job, and we have summer drivers. However, last year we were told by the Labor Department that workers under the age of 18 are not allowed to drive as part of their employment. Along with that we learned that our drivers are not covered under the agriculture overtime exemption. What does this mean for the Coopers? It means the teenagers who are wanting to work out of town and put in long hours to make sure you have peaches in your area are not allowed by law to drive to you. Also their hours will be limited to 40 hours because of the overtime rule. What does this mean for you? If the Coopers find someone over the age of 18 to drive, they will not be able to stay as many days, even hours as they have in the past. This is a ruling that is not going away and will affect how often and how far we go out of town.
The second factor is supply of peaches. You will remember in our last writing we told you the early blooms were froze out. We have a beautiful crop. Gorgeous great tasting peaches. However, the supply is limited. Again the Coopers have to make some decisions. Do we keep the peaches we have here in Fairfield to make sure none of our faithful customers are turned away when they drive all the way to our store? When we are certain Fairfield has enough peaches, do we then send delivery trucks to grocery stores where our customers can go at their own leisure to buy them? When we do the latter, then the Coopers can return home and continue picking. We are confident in years to come our supply of peaches will be better when weather cooperates.
We would like to be everywhere all of the time with a full crop of peaches. But this year we will be in limited out-of-town sites with limited days and limited peaches. However, we can guarantee will have PLENTY of peaches in Fairfield. When we post deliveries to stores it is to let you know where we have been able to go. If this is anywhere close to you, please take advantage of the delivery.
The third factor is seeing how a small family farm can keep farming in today’s economy, and today’s government regulations. Trying to keep costs down and leave a legacy to our children, where they can carry on the family tradition, we are trying to get back to the basics in the fields. While Tim is keeping the crops irrigated, the weeds at bay, and the insect beneficials thriving, Kathy is on the picking trailer inspecting every peach that comes out of the orchard. Ben keeps the country store supplied with great products from the peaches we pick. Elizabeth helps out in ALL of the areas mentioned above. New times call for new ways and smart decisions. Cooper Farms is here to stay. If times are changing, this family will adapt and keep growing peaches for you.
This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17
God is good all the time. And all the time God is Good.
written by Kathy Cooper