Local farm works to keep up with demand amid outbreak

Kent County

CALEDONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — While many have been ordered to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, farmers are still reporting to work.

At Revolution Farms greenhouse in Caledonia, they’ve made some changes to protect their staff and crops.

Normal procedure calls for workers to step into a foot bath the minute they get into the greenhouse. Then they put on a hair net and slide protective footwear over their shoes. After that, they head to a sink to wash their hands. Even still, the company has taken further steps to keep everyone healthy.

“We’re trying to make sure that we have a crew to harvest the lettuce all year and all week long,” said Dan Vukcevich with Revolution Farms. “So, what we’ve done is actually cut our crew in half.”

The farm normally has about 20 people working, but that group has now been reduced to ten. The group works five days a week, harvesting about 8,000 pounds of butter bit, red oak, green oak, green crisp and romaine lettuces.

Revolution Farms greenhouse in Caledonia. (March 18, 2020)

“We’ll be basically seeding plants, transfer them into a raft — that raft goes into the water for about 21 days, we’ll harvest at the end of the line and then put them in packages,” Vukcevich said. 

After a 45-day growth period, the lettuce goes to hundreds of Midwest restaurants and grocery stores like Spartan stores and Meijer. The farmers say in a time when stores are selling items faster than they can restock them, it has caused a higher demand for lettuce and longer days for the few workers left.

“Our retail partners have asked us to pull up orders and we’re doing that. Our wholesale partners have obviously slowed down because of the restaurants (dine-in ban), but we’re doing everything we can to get out orders to all of the retailers,” Vukcevich said. 

They say though the work has been demanding, they realize they play a crucial role in feeding local families.

“99% of our lettuce comes from California and Arizona. So, we’re a part of that last little bit, and we think going forward it’s going to become more important to have local food supply. If we can’t respond during times like this, then the chain doesn’t really work,” Vukcevich said.


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