Organic grower donates food to those in need during COVID-19 crisis

Updated: Mar. 18, 2020 at 12:34 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The worst of times can bring out the best in people. We went to Sackets Harbor where helping the community ranks higher on the list than making a dollar.

AgBotic is a greenhouse smart farm in Sackets Harbor.

It grows thousands of pounds of organic food weekly and typically sells it to restaurants in Syracuse and New York City.

But with those restaurants being shut down due to COVID-19, sales plummeted to almost zero. Founder John Gaus knew he had two options.

"We could either shut down and save money, which is understandable when most businesses do that, but in a time of crisis, we thought it was important to keep employees on payroll, and keep making food for people who are going to need food," he said.

The business is still operating, but instead of selling the goods, it's going to those in need.

A few days ago, racks were stocked full of fresh, organic, product. Now, it has all been distributed to food pantries in the area.

“The greenhouse behind me can grow about 5,000 pounds of radishes every 19 days, so it’s a substantial amount of food we’re growing, and we think there’s a great opportunity to put those in the kitchens of those who aren’t getting a paycheck right now,” said Gaus.

AgBotic employees say they feel incredibly lucky to not only still have jobs, but to also be able to do good with their work.

“We took it right to heart, it’s a great thing we’re doing, we’re just trying to do our part to help our community get through this crisis,” said Cameron Heasley, operator.

AgBotic is even growing different kinds of produce to suit immune and respiratory health.

“Kale, arugula, carrots, turnips, we’re also going to grow industrial hemp, tulsi, and thyme, which are traditionally associated with immune health, respiratory health,” said Gaus.

It might seem heroic, but Guas says it just makes sense to help others.

“It’s time to step up and do the right thing. I’ll go broke keeping these people employed,” he said.

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