Plants (copy)

Potted plants grow last year inside Battlefield Farms, the state’s largest greenhouse operation, located in Orange County.

Battlefield Farms is dedicated to providing a safe workplace for our employees. Employees in agriculture are also front-line heroes in this pandemic and have shown strength and resilience during this difficult time. We appreciate their hard work and adherence to our safety policies.

Our response began early on March 5 when we made our leadership aware that we were monitoring the global coronavirus outbreak and announced we would be following the guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control.

We gave tips for employees to stay home when they are sick, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, covering coughs and sneezes, hand washing and other healthy habits. Soon afterward, we ramped up the purchasing of cleaning supplies, hand soap, single-use paper towels, disinfecting wipes, disinfecting spray, hand sanitizer and masks. We implemented frequent sanitizing and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, bathrooms, break rooms and work areas. In addition to our own increase in cleaning frequency, we spray surfaces and equipment with sanitizer after each shift ends and hired a cleaning company to come in every evening and clean after hours. We displayed bilingual posters from the CDC with education about COVID-19, hand washing, staying home when sick, social distancing, COVID-19 symptoms and cloth face coverings.

We also have propped open doors and assigned an attendant to clock in workers to reduce how much people touch door handles and time clocks. We have placed a virucide solution foot bath prior to entry. We have purchased over $1,000 in hand sanitizer from Culpeper’s Belmont Farm Distillery. The hand sanitizer is used prior to working, during work and before exiting.

We staggered break times to allow for smaller groups and have distanced tables and chairs 6 feet apart. We have marked the floors with 6-feet distancing in walkways and stationary work areas and installed Plexiglass barriers between workers. Anyone entering our facilities or greenhouse must wear a cloth face covering or a mask. We have also purchased reusable cloth and disposable masks in excess of $4,000.

We screen all workers for COVID-19 symptoms and do temperature checks behind the protection of a plastic barrier prior to anyone working. A worker who presents symptoms or a fever will be isolated and sent home with the RRHD and Virginia Department of Health hotline number and encouraged to follow up with VDH or their health-care provider.

We have opened our doors to the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District, and its staff members have generously provided masks and staff to come and complete bilingual training on COVID-19 with our employees. They have been a great partner in communicating with our company and providing services and guidance.

We provide paid sick leave and extended family medical leave that has been beneficial to workers with qualifying reasons for leave related to COVID-19. We have also implemented a special pay increase of $2/hour for the heroes working in this time of stress. Our greenhouse workers are essential and appreciated.

Anthony and Bobby van Hoven own Battlefield Farms Inc. in Orange County, Virginia’s largest greenhouse grower.

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