AVONDALE—With little more than her eyes sticking out from beneath a COVID mask and protective hair net, U.S. Rep. Chrissy D-6th, Easttown peppered several To-Jo Farms employees with questions about the ongoing pandemic and mushrooms.
The 8,000 square foot, six tiered, and four aisle-wide mushroom house, produces 5.2 crops indoor, year-round, for more than 350,000 pounds of product to help make Kennett Square the “Mushroom Capitol of the World.” About 65 percent of domestic mushrooms are grown in Pennsylvania darkness.
“We are fighting for this industry to stay and thrive,” Houlahan said. “We are here to protect this industry.
“I really want to be part of the solution and bring people together.”
The two-term Congresswoman talked about the expertise of many mushroom farmers who are fourth and fifth generation producers.
Houlahan visited the American Mushroom Institute in London Grove, home of the oldest trade publication for agriculture.
Kevin Delaney, vice president of sales and marketing for To-Jo said the business’s number one priority is to make sure that employees are safe during the pandemic. Employee temperatures are taken and masks are always worn.
Houlahan noted the importance of receiving the pandemic vaccine.
“People get vaccinated and feel comfortable going back to work,” she said.
Delaney said that the mushroom business had been luckier than many other growers. While he said it is sometimes tough to adapt, grocery market sales went up, while conversely, restaurant sales are down.
“People are cooking from home—we are versatile--we’ve been very lucky,” Delaney said.
To-Jo President Tony D’Amico said that he grows a healthy product that the Food Network seems to feature in almost every recipe.
Houlahan’s first stop of the day was to the busy LCH Health and Community Service where the rep said there was “a lot of positive energy.”
A majority of the health provider’s clients speak primarily Spanish. LCH provides primary care and has injected 5,000 doses of the life-saving COVID vaccine since January. Besides the Kennett Square site, the health provider works out of West Grove and Oxford.
“You guys are providing a great service for our country,” Houlahan said.
Vaccine demand still exceeds the need.
“We try to accommodate everyone, but we can’t do them all,” Ted Trevorrow, LCH director of operations and a member of the Longwood Rotary Club, said about those requesting vaccine. “The Chester County Health Department has a lot to say about how much vaccine…and we’re doing our best.”
Transportation is an issue.
“If you don’t have transportation on your own how do you get there?” he asked.
Barbara Mancill, director of quality care and population health, is hopeful that the health provider will soon be able to administer the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“They won’t have to come back for another appointment,” Mancill said. “Many are losing salary every time they walk through the door.”
Vaccine is currently only given by appointment. LCH may be reached at 610-444-7550 or go to LCHCommunityHealth.org