This Seattle-based Urban Farm Is Learning How To Adapt During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Food and other household items have been suffering unusual shortages due to the COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus pandemic. Due to the viral outbreak, countries and major cities across the world have issued mandatory lockdowns, shutting down all “non-essential” businesses until the virus is properly contained. Many fresh farms have been seeing a new wave of customers due to the shortage of fresh produce and food items. For one entrepreneur, the public health crisis meant shifting gears and creating new strategies.

Seattle native Ras Peynado was inspired by his mother’s dream to open her own urban farm. While his parents were never able to realize their dreams, their son Ras would make sure that he fulfilled their wish since his father’s death in their home country of Jamaica. “I later took part of his humble lifestyle (farming) and turned it into a profitable lifestyle,” said Peynado to Shoppe Black in an interview. “I’m also inspired by my own passion for growing medical marijuana.” His company, Herbenfarm, opened in 2012 and has a stall in the popular Pike Place Market that attracts both locals and tourists alike. He specializes in tasty seasonings, organic honey, and savory sauces.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., Peynado’s farm has taken a serious hit financially due to the dramatic decrease in foot traffic through the market. “We primarily depend on tourism,” he explained. “Tourists that come into the city and even more on cruise ship tourism from April-October. Tourism accounts for 85%-90% of my sales and since March have not been able to set up at market due to the statewide lockdown in Washington.”

Despite the setbacks, Peynado remains optimistic while implementing new strategies to get through the shutdown. [I’ve been] working with local partners like Savor Seattle and the Atrium Kitchen At Pike Place to come up with creative ways to reach the locals,” he said. “This is the time when people are spending more time in the kitchen and needing to stay satisfied; avoiding the same old stale flavors from the grocery store. My partners have been able to gather other fresh local producers to create weekly boxes/bags that can be curbside picked up or delivered throughout the city, servicing hundreds of customers so far.”