The Land: Rennhack Orchards Market takes extra precautions during COVID-19.

June 5, 2020

Shields are being installed on the counters at Rennhack’s Orchard Market in Hart as a safety precaution for COVID-19. Pictured is owner Joann Rennhack.

The Land: Rennhack Orchards Market takes extra precautions during COVID-19.

#TheLand is a series telling the stories about local agriculture. It is a presentation of Peterson Farms, Inc.

HART — Rennhack Orchards Market, owned by Dave and and Joann Rennhack, is taking extra precautions to keep its customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The popular farm market will have a “soft opening” Saturday, June 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then it will be open for the season beginning Thursday, June 11.

Joann Rennhack is preparing to open her farm market store in Hart Thursday, June 11. A ‘soft opening’ is set for Saturday, June 6.

“We are opening an hour earlier this year, with that first hour, 8-9 a.m. Monday through Saturday especially for vulnerable populations — seniors and others with underlying health conditions,” said Joann. Store hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday starting Thursday, June 11.

Another new shopping option is phone ordering with curbside pickup. “For even less contact, customers can call during business hours to place their order over the phone. When they arrive at the market, they can park at the side in the curbside pickup spot, and phone 873-7523 to alert us. A staffer will come out to handle their payment and deliver their order right to their car.”

Some extra safety precautions in light of COVID-19 include:

* Screening of employees for symptoms before work.
* Social distancing for customers and employees, with markings 6 feet apart on the floor.
* Extra ventilation and air circulation.
* Masks for staff in the retail area.
* Hand sanitizer available for use throughout the market.
* Sampling of fruit/food is not permitted.
* Tissues, no-touch wastebaskets, and hand-washing sink for customers who need to use them.
* Plexiglass barrier at counter to minimize customer contact.
* Increased cleaning/disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as shopping carts.
* 8-9 a.m. shopping for vulnerable populations.
* Phone ordering with curbside pickup.
* Signs to inform customers of safety precautions, including wearing masks by customers. Medical conditions can prevent mask-wearing, so Rennhack’s will not discriminate if someone is not wearing a mask.

Enjoy a “special sneak peek/soft opening” of Rennhack Orchards Market this Saturday, June 6.

“We will be open this Saturday for customers who have been waiting for Dave’s EverCrisp and Honey Crisp apples, washed fresh local asparagus, frozen Peterson Farms fruit, dried tart cherries — plain, covered in dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or yogurt, local Liberty Farms organic breakfast cookies, and lots of Michigan-made pantry and kitchen items,” said Joann.

This Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. 6 p.m. outside the market, shop the one and only “Joann’s Decluttering and Downsizing Sale.” The sale will be set up to accommodate social distancing, and hand sanitizer will be available. Most items will cost a quarter per piece. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books for toddlers through adults will be sold for 25 cents each or 10 for $1. “Lots of good reads for everyone,” Joann said. Check out toys, games, puzzles, kitchen items, and some bedding/comforters. There will be many bibles for free and other free items, too. “Bring your quarters and get some great deals.” Help Joann with her “serious decluttering effort,” and take home some great stuff.

“Our family farm is almost adjacent to our market,” Joann said. “We practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) because we care about our environment. We practice a number of methods to help control pests and improve our environment, including soil and water conservation, crop rotation, scouting for pest activity, growing and plowing specialty mustard as a bio-fumigant, and pheromone used to disrupt the mating cycle of pests. We actually use a lower quantity of pesticides and fossil fuels, with less soil erosion, than if we grew the same quality and quantity of produce organically. We attend educational programs to continue to learn and improve our techniques.

“We started selling sweet cherries at our little roadside market in 1984. Over the years, we expanded to sell more of our produce and also locally-made jams, honey, and maple syrup. In 2006 we built our current market and expanded our business. We specialize in local and Michigan-made food and gifts, particularly items used in the kitchen. We try to keep things as local as we can.

“Our tag line, ‘We grow it for you, and do gift baskets, too!’ reflects our emphasis on our own family farm-grown produce. If we can grow it well, we grow it ourselves. If we can’t, we get it from other family farmers who can produce the high quality we require. We handle our fresh fruits and vegetables carefully, to minimize bruising/damage and to maintain that fresh-from-the-orchard flavor and quality. We want to provide our customers with fresh, great-tasting fruits and vegetables.

An exciting change for shoppers this is that there will be more free fresh produce for families with EBT (or P-EBT) cards.

“We have been participating in the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program for some time,” said Joann. Funded by the Fair Food Network based in Ann Arbor, DUFB matches amounts spent at participating markets using EBT (SNAP/bridge cards). The matched amount in tokens can be used for free fresh fruits and vegetables at participating markets, either right away or later in the year. In the past, the amount was limited to $20 per day, so even if a family spent $30 on the EBT card, they could get $20 in tokens.

“This year, there are no daily limits for earning tokens,” Joann said. “Whatever is spent on the EBT or P-EBT card will earn the same amount – rounded down to the nearest even dollar amount — in $2 Double Up Food Bucks tokens. These can be saved for later or used right away for free fresh fruits and vegetables at our market or other participating farm markets.”

The P-EBT card is part of a new program for this year to help families with children who qualify for free or reduced school lunches. This card is used just like an EBT card in terms of Double Up Food Bucks.

Rennhacks are committed to keeping their customers happy, well-fed and safe. Their market is located at 3731 W. Polk Rd., across from Hansen Foods. The phone number is (231) 873-7523. The market is open for the season June 11 through Dec. 23.


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