WINDBER – Joel Weaver’s family farm has weathered a lot of changes in 180 years.
The operation has survived poor harvests, world wars and the Great Depression. And if Weaver has any say in it, the farm will survive COVID-19, too – even if it means shifting the way they do business, he said.
“That means using more technology,” the fourth-generation farmer said. “And for a bunch of old people who like playing in the dirt ... that means we have to adapt.”
The Weaver family’s Grandma’s Produce farm received a $5,000 grant from the Carlisle-based GIANT Co. to support its effort, which will add wireless technology and computer tablets at the farm to support both online and market sales.
Grandma’s Produce grows and sells produce such as tomatoes, sweet corn and cucumbers – as well as local beef – at their Lucinda Lane farm. To continue doing that during the coronavirus pandemic, the family will have to invest in packaging supplies to wrap their goods and reduce person-to-person contact risks.
“The grant is going to help us do that,” said Weaver, who runs the farm with his brother, Mark, and their families. “We are thankful to GIANT Company for their generosity and willingness to support small local businesses like ours. This grant will give us the opportunity to continue serving our community with fresh, local produce.”
GIANT Co., which operates Martin’s Stores in the region, partnered with Team Pennsylvania to distribute $500,000 to 110 small supply-chain businesses across the state, the company said in a news release.
Grandma’s Produce was selected from more than 500 applications, GIANT Co. President Nicholas Bertram said.
“The GIANT Company is proud to support small businesses like Grandma’s Produce who feed Pennsylvania,” Bertram said in a release to media.
“We hope these emergency grants will provide some relief to family farms, local food artisans and manufacturers to keep people employed and strengthen businesses right now and moving forward.”
Thanks to a spring cold snap, Weaver said this year’s harvest is about two weeks behind last year. But he’s looking at it as a potential blessing, saying that is giving the family time to prepare for a business season that will rely on the new technology.
“And that’s OK,” he said. “We’ve been here a long time. Our goal is to make it long enough for this farm to be run by our fifth generation.”