App boosts business at Ramble Rill farm in Hillsborough despite COVID-19 pandemic

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The dew is burning off the leavers of a purple iris. The sun greets Ramble Rill farm in Hillsborough.

It's just before 8 in the morning when we meet the owners of the farm, Darin Knapp and Jane Saiers.

The duo had been selling their produce at the local farmers market, but that closed.

That prompted a shift in their business model - now it's order online and pickup only.

"It's been quite a challenge, definitely a pivot for us," Knapp admits.

A pivot, yes, but business has not suffered, in fact, it's booming. At last check, Ramble Rill said though they want to and plan to, right now they can't take on any more customers.

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"it is a challenge. It's a stressful feeling," Saiers said. "We've tried to address the challenge by increasing our production. So we've quickly tried to ramp up the production of what we've got coming on in the next few weeks."

The small-time farmers we have talked to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has them working overtime to keep North Carolinians fed. Owners at Ramble Rill say neighboring farmers are doing the same.

A new app from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is connecting farmers to consumers as certain items are limited in findings on grocery store shelves.

Take eggs, for example. If it's on your shopping list, but if the store is out, open the Visit NC Farm App. The app can connect you to nearby farms selling what you need.

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Annie Baggett is with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. "Folks really want to support their local farmer, they just don't always know how to do that," Annie said.

The app right now includes 20 counties and 500 farms. More are being added. In the month of March, Baggett says that the app saw a 50% increase in user engagement.

At Ramble Rill, Darin and Jane are hopeful that business will continue to boom even after the pandemic recedes.
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