Local greenhouses, farmers report crippling effect due to COVID-19

Otto Keil Florist, a huge greenhouse operation in Huntington and on the East End, have ended up donating thousands of flowers to hospital workers.

News 12 Staff

Apr 14, 2020, 3:36 PM

Updated 1,552 days ago

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The pandemic's crippling economic impact is growing and local greenhouses are feeling the effect.
Farmers are holding out hope they can open for Mother's Day. On the East End, flowers would normally adorn churches and households. However, with churches closed and the market for flowers down, there is plenty left over.
Otto Keil Florist, a huge greenhouse operation in Huntington and on the East End, has ended up donating thousands of flowers to hospital workers. Greg Keil says his operation makes 80-90% of its income from April through June.
"We've already lost April because of COVID, and we're looking at this tsunami forming, and we're hoping maybe it'll crest earlier and we'll salvage May. But if it comes and it crashes on the shore in that first two weeks of May, it's an enormous loss," says Keil.
Farmers say another issue is that although landscapers are allowed to do maintenance work on people's yards, the state is not allowing them to plant flowers – which is also cutting deep into the wholesale greenhouse industry.
There is also plenty of concern at farmstands that specialize in flowers and plants, like Andrews Family Farm in Wading River. The stand opens during the last weekend of April, and hopes there'll be customers waiting.
"We're all feeling the anxiety of what's going on," says Denise Andrews. "Back in December we started with everything. We always had one or two greenhouses going through the winter and then as we needed it, we kept opening more greenhouses."
Farmstands are considered essential businesses as long as they're selling food or are involved in food production.


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