Over the last week, the COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous economic challenges on all sectors of the economy. Agriculture and food are seeing unprecedented growth as grocery stores scramble to fill their shelves while restaurants are shuttered. As a result, Hickory Nut Gap is being forced to make tough decisions about strategy without a good understanding of where things will end up in these unprecedented times.
Over the past week, we have seen bright spots with Ingles, Whole Foods, and our Farm Store all having record breaking weeks. Unfortunately, our local restaurant route had very few deliveries as most doors are shuttered. These local restaurants were the lifeblood of our business in the early years. I remember the thrill of selling John Stehling at Early Girl Eatery 20 lbs. of hamburger each week and the hope that it instilled in me that we were on the right track. The independent small business is a bedrock for creating the conditions for entrepreneurial and creative cultural shifts. Without independent restaurants, we lose some of the spirit that helps define us all.
We are forced to take things day by day while keeping the health and safety of our employees in the forefront of our minds, as well as, trying to maintain business operations at the Farm Store (see here for details), Farm Production and the HNG warehouse that continue to be viable in these times.
As we plan for the future, I believe that everyone is going to be going through a difficult period on a personal and professional level. Hickory Nut Gap is not going to be spared. But the importance of healthy, humane, and eco-friendly livestock production and the desire for great food is going to remain strong. There might be a short term drought where growth is hard and times are tough but the rains will come again and we will be ready for it when the time comes.
Hang tough everyone and we will live to continue to build community through agriculture and drive the change we all want to see.
Jamie and Amy Ager