Sideswiped by coronavirus, a year-old Hinesburg farm reinvents itself — fast

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HINESBURG – Pre-coronavirus, the farm’s plan for its first season was straightforward: to cultivate specialty vegetables and herbs that no restaurant chef could resist.

Matt Lasser and Josh Fisher, longtime friends and both 30, went out on a limb and bought a tractor for the fledgling Reap and Sow Farm in Hinesburg.

“We’d just finished building a greenhouse — and then all the restaurants closed down,” Lasser said.

The farm’s projected revenue stream plunged by 85%.

“It looked like we’d put most of our eggs in one basket,” Lasser said.

The duo promptly shifted gears. They found traction in what had originally been viewed as a sideline business: the direct sales of produce to neighbors through CSA shares.

It’s working. Advertising, especially through Front Porch Forum, continues to attract subscribers, Lasser said.

Is Reap and Sow going to survive the pandemic?

No question, Lasser said. He credits flexible thinking.

“I don’t just think of myself as a farmer — this is just one thing I can do,” he added; the same applies to Fisher, who also works as head chef at The Kitchen Table Bistro in Richmond.

“We can change, and we can change on the fly,” Lasser said. “If we put our minds to something, we can probably get it done.

“This is a ‘do-or-die’ situation, and neither of us are willing to roll over and die,” he added. “We’ve already had conversations about how we can come out of this stronger than before.”

The owners’ optimism stems in large part from relationships with friends, neighbors and mentors.

“It’s paying off dividends,” Lasser said. “It’s showing us that we can all work together to make everything better for everybody.”

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Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or joelbaird@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.

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