Researchers recently presented information on the health benefits of strawberry consumption. ( Courtesy California Strawberry Commission )

Since COVID-19 burst onto the scene in early March, much of the California Strawberry Commission’s energy has been focused on health and safety on the farm and developing tools and resources for farmworkers and farmers, said Carolyn O’Donnell, directing of marketing.

“Strawberries were in production in Southern California, so we needed to get information into the hands of workers and growers immediately,” she said.

Tools include signage, handouts, audio announcements and training videos.

Signage and materials are in Spanish and English, and the audio and video resources are in Spanish, English and Mixtec.

“These resources are built on the base of the commission’s food safety program, which already include emphasis on staying home when sick and proper hand washing,” she said.

Farmers have added additional measures to maintain social distancing during harvest activities and breaks by spreading out crews and adjusting and staggering schedules.

The commission grower education and field research staff made calls and visits to 95% of the planted acreage, providing orientation and training to growers and ranch managers, as well as posters, signs, and reminder stickers and pamphlets, O’Donnell said.

The commission also promoted ways to stay healthy with public service announcements on Spanish and English language radio and television stations along California’s Central Coast.

Finally, the commission created a Coronavirus News & Resources page, which includes county-by-county information as well as an archive of the daily e-mails distributed to growers, shippers and processors with the latest health, safety, regulatory and business assistance information. 

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