COVID-19 Update on Horticultural and Agritourism Businesses in Cluster Sites

As we enter the colder months, we must remain vigilant in maintaining health and safety requirements to stop the spread of COVID-19. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) is reminding horticultural and agritourism businesses that they must adhere to the COVID-19 New York Forward guidance. 

Nonessential agritourism activities permitted under Phase 4 Outdoor Arts and Entertainment may not operate in a red cluster zone.

Under the NY Cluster Action Initiative, clusters of positive COVID-19 cases and the areas around them are divided into three categories with successively higher restrictions: Red Zone – cluster Itself; Orange Zone – warning zone; and Yellow Zone – precautionary zone. 

If your farm is in a Red Zone, only essential services are permitted (which includes landscaping, gardening and horticulture).  According to NYSDAM officials, for those tree farms operating in a red zone, activity would be limited to the direct sale of Christmas trees and other horticulture products. Nonessential activities otherwise associated with agritourism may not operate in a red cluster zone. 

Tree farms and horticultural operations are reminded to follow the NY Forward Guidance and to consult NYSDAM’s Agritourism Frequently Asked Questions. Guidance includes, but is not limited to: reduced capacity; face coverings required; and social distance maintained between individuals/parties.

In addition, we have created “Best Management Practices for Agritourism Farms During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This document provides management and communication strategies for agritourism activities for the 2020 season to support your farms as you navigate the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“We all have COVID fatigue, but we simply don’t have the luxury of letting our guard down — COVID isn’t tired,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated in a recent statewide update. “If we stay New York Tough and keep up the good work we’ve been doing, wearing our masks, staying socially distant and adhering to gathering limits, we can manage this global surge of COVID, but these next few weeks are key in maintaining our progress.”

For Additional Information:

The Cluster Action Initiative has a simplified chart of activities and operations allowed within each cluster zone.

For full details on clusters, review the Empire State Development’s Guidance related to New York’s Cluster Action Initiative.

Micro-cluster maps can be found on the New York Forward website, along with industry guidance.

The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets has created an official COVID-19 resource page offering details and latest guidance as it relates to agriculture in the state.

The Cornell Small Farms Program is keeping a list of resources for farms to build resiliency through potential impacts from COVID-19.

Kacey Deamer

Kacey is the Communications Manager for the Cornell Small Farms Program. In this role, she manages all storytelling and outreach across the program’s website, social media, e-newsletter, magazine and more. Kacey has worked in communications and journalism for more than a decade, with a primary focus on science and sustainability.
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