OCEANSIDE — With farmers markets closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a family who has been farming in Southern California for more than a century is taking its produce directly to homes throughout North County and beyond.
For the last three years, Yasukochi Family Farm has been putting together and delivering CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes full of fresh produce.
“They’re buying local vegetables,” said Donal Yasukochi explaining how the community is supporting the operation. “It helps us stay in business.”
According to Britinee Yasukochi, one of Donal Yasukochi’s daughters who handles mostly the administrative side of the CSA box operation, the farm was delivering between 250 and 300 boxes a week to schools and businesses, with a few home deliveries prior to the pandemic. Now, with social distancing practices in place, the requests for home deliveries have skyrocketed.
After the COVID-19 pandemic struck, local farmers markets were forced to close, which meant the Yasukochis, as well as many other local farmers, lost a way to sell their produce. The family then reached out to its regular customers to suggest more home deliveries to make up for the loss of the farmers’ markets.
Pretty soon, the farm was a hit on Facebook, NextDoor and other social media websites. Donal Yasukochi said as soon as his daughter spread the word about the boxes on the Internet, within a half-hour their phones began “blowing up.”
“We went viral,” Britinee Yasukochi said.
Now, she said, the farm is delivering an estimated 2,000 boxes or more a week.
Donal and Britinee Yasukochi explained that several family members have stepped in to help. The family has also hired some additional drivers to help with deliveries.
“It’s all hands on deck,” Britinee Yasukochi said.
The boxes typically include a variety of produce grown at the Yasukochi’s farm, including strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli and cauliflower. The farm also purchases “staple-item” produce like carrots, onions and potatoes to provide in the boxes, Donal Yasukochi said.
“We try not to give them the same stuff every week so they don’t have a whole refrigerator of just tomatoes or cucumbers,” Donal Yasukochi said.
The boxes also include produce from other local farmers who, like the Yasukochi Family Farm, lost a source of profit from the farmers markets closing.
Some of those items include mushrooms from a local mushroom farm and fresh eggs.
“We’re trying to help the local farmers,” Donal Yasukochi said.
The family also views the program as a way to help the community, especially for customers like the elderly who are unable to go out for food during this time.
“We’re getting a lot of orders from trailer parks and retirement communities and delivering right to their door,” Donal Yasukochi said.
Britinee Yasukochi said the family sees the boxes as a “mutual benefit” for the farm, local farmers and the community.
“We’re so grateful for the support we’ve received from the community,” Britinee Yasukochi said. She asks that those placing orders be patient with the family as they process all the orders they receive. “We’re trying our best to serve as many people as we can.”
Orders for CSA boxes can be placed on the farm’s website at http://yasukochifamilyfarms.com/csa.
Delivery schedules are Mondays (Oceanside and Carlsbad); Tuesdays (Vista, Escondido, San Marcos, Fallbrook); Wednesdays (Encinitas, Cardiff, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, & Del Sur); Thursdays (San Diego, La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Chula Vista); Fridays (Oceanside and Carlsbad).