Mar 18, 2020
An Essential Business By Tim Hodson

As COVID-19 continues to alter our everyday lives and growers wonder what lies ahead, it was very heartening to see that Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Wolf, understands the importance of the agriculture and horticulture industries.

On March 17, Wolf, issued a guidance for the industry on essential businesses and how those businesses can mitigate against COVID-19 while maintaining essential operations to ensure people have access to food.

In part, Wolf’s statement said, “Essential businesses for a safe and accessible food supply include farms, greenhouses and vegetable plants, orchards, pest management services, feed mills and ag supply businesses, agriculture equipment sales and services, animal feed and supply distribution network, transportation system from farm to retail, food and meat processors and manufacturers, veterinary services and supplies, distribution and transportation system from processors and manufacturers to retailers, retailers to include grocery stores and farmers markets, grocery delivery services, laboratories, and inspectors that ensure food safety.”

I’m sure other governors and local officials will be releasing similar statements (if they haven’t already) in the near future. If they don’t, they should!

Wolf’s guidance is great news for growers and garden centers who are producing and selling vegetable plants as they definitely fall under this definition.

Over the past week or so, “Gardening is not canceled!” seems to be a constant battle cry on my social media feeds. Since people are being required to stay close to home, why not garden — indoors or outdoors?

Spring is still just around the corner and Mother Nature may not cooperate in all areas for growing outdoors, but for “essential” growers and retailers this is a great opportunity to remind people about how great your edible and ornamental products are. They offer a tasty and beautiful diversion to the current state of things.

Stay healthy,


P.S. You can read the entire contents of Wolfe’s statement here.


Walmart Commits $25 Million to COVID-19 Battle

To help meet the critical needs resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $25 million to support organizations on the front lines responding to the outbreak. The funds will be used to strengthen the global public health response, bolster food security and support local communities in the U.S. and internationally. The commitment is intended to provide: $5 million to support global efforts to help countries prevent, detect and manage the coronavirus; $10 million to support food banks, school meal programs and organizations that provide access to food for underserved populations; and $10 million to support local communities in the United States and international markets.

Home Depot Extends Paid Time Off for Associates, Adjusts Hours,

The Home Depot is temporarily adjusting store hours to better serve customers and communities in response to COVID-19. Beginning March 19, stores will now close daily at 6 p.m., while opening hours will remain unchanged. The adjusted hours will give stores the ability to staff appropriately and provide additional time to restock shelves and perform cleaning. The company is also expanding its paid time off policy for hourly associates and alleviate some of the challenges they may be facing as a result of COVID-19. Starting this week, all hourly full-time associates will receive an additional 80 hours of paid sick or personal time, and part-time hourly associates will receive an additional 40 hours of paid sick or personal time.

Whole Foods Boosts Employee Hourly Rates Through April, Modifies Store Offerings

Beginning March 16, all team members at Whole Foods Market stores will receive an additional $2 per hour on top of their current hourly rate through April. To better serve communities, Whole Foods will be adjusting its store hours on a store-by-store basis. Starting March 19, all stores will service customers who are 70 and older one hour before opening to the general public. The grocer also has implemented a number of temporary modifications to its prepared foods, restaurant and self-serve venues including the temporary closure of hot bars, salad bars, soup bars and self-serve pizza and seated restaurant venues and indoor and outdoor cafes seating will be temporarily unavailable but will offer takeout food.

Tim Hodson

Tim Hodson is the editorial director of GPN and Big Grower. He can be reached at [email protected]

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GPN recognizes 40 industry professionals under the age of 40 who are helping to determine the future of the horticulture industry. These individuals are today’s movers and shakers who are already setting the pace for tomorrow.
Kait Barry
Susan Judd
Alex Kantor
Liz Hughes
Andrew Konicki
Kit Leider Pierri
Lauren Kirchner
Michelle Opela
Judson LeCompte

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