What a crazy year! Gold Brook Farm, like most family farms or tourism centered small businesses, embarked on 2020 with high hopes for bountiful crops and a steady influx customers and guests. … and that’s how the year started; the guest rooms booking calendar was filling up fast, winter was showing signs of retreat and we had placed our seed order for a busy planting season. Then COVID19 descended upon us and we were barraged with a cacophony of government advice, edicts and misguided rhetoric. The guest bookings disappeared, and our familiar routines were upended. Schools were cancelled, teenagers were set adrift by faculty and parents who naively though that learning was a perpetual motion machine that could simply shift into “virtual mode”. Finding sources for spring planting inputs became a scavenger hunt and getting equipment ready for the field turned into a very creative project as supply chains constricted and tech support from the equipment dealers went into forced hibernation. Still, we managed to get all the equipment field-ready and got the canola planted right on time. Perhaps the most heroic feat of the year was achieved by our two high school seniors who managed to remain focused their studies just long enough to graduate from Westfield Academy. If that were the only endeavor that bore fruit this year, we’d classify 2020 as a capstone year. Other tangible successes have followed to be sure and we’ve been very fortunate to have escaped much of the financial stress and emotional strains brought about by the COVID19 pandemic. My duties managing the county’s two airports continued without interruption throughout the pandemic and we’ve even managed to cultivate some embryonic business development initiatives in the midst of all the economic turmoil.
Back on the farm, I took advantage of the forced suspension of guest bookings to start some barn restoration work and we turned contractors lose on a much dreaded project to replace the sewer line connecting the farmstead to the village sewer main. The combine got a thorough going-over and our modest orchard and gardens received an abundance of attention.
As the State-imposed pandemic mitigation measures took hold and we started to emerge from forced hibernation, the pent-up demand for weekend escapes and release from public health orders restricting us to garrison generated a flurry of new bookings just in time for the grape harvest and fall foliage touring. Beautiful fall weather and an concerted effort by our local wineries, breweries and distilleries (not to mention a stupendous effort on mother nature’s part to paint the woods with a riot of vibrant colors), has drawn homebound-weary city dwellers to our doorstep and filled the guests bookings calendar. Relaxation of travel restrictions couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for Gold Brook Farm; we’ve mostly completed our barn maintenance and restoration projects for the year, nursed the cantankerous combine through another canola harvest and pressed the bounty of our grape vines into fermenting wine. The leaves are still clinging to the trees and the great reservoir of summer warmth captured by Lake Erie is postponing winter’s inevitable arrival for a few more weeks. We are under no illusions that COVID19 is behind us or that we can revert to our unencumbered travel habits, but we’re ready and able to offer (relatively) safe harbor for garrison weary guests eager to take in the fall scents and colors before we’re once-again forced back into hibernation by some cruel mix of winter and viruses.