A Massachusetts pick your own farm was the subject of criticism over the last week after a Black couple claimed they were racially profiled and accused of stealing.
Manikka Bowman—vice chair of the Cambridge School Committee—and her husband Jeff Myers shared their story after they visited the Connors Farm in Danvers, Massachusetts. Due to six apples that didn't fit in their prepaid bag, they were assumed to be trying to steal by the security and management of the farm.
They also had to deal with police being called, all over six apples.
Bowman explained in a post her family had spent more than $100 on all-day admission to the farm, food and drink and a prepaid bag for apple picking. They also donated to the Connors Scholarship Foundation.
Being there with her small children, Bowman realized the kids had picked a few more apples than fit in the bag. She didn't think it would be an issue, as she planned to purchase them separately when she returned to the gift story to get apple cider donuts.
Before that could happen, she was stopped by security for the extra apples in her stroller. The security guard and other employees then searched her personal bags for other "concealed" fruits.
When it became clear the employees were accusing her of trying to steal, Bowman asked for the owner's contact information.
The employees responded by calling the police.
On Labor Day, my beautiful family experienced profiling and was accused of stealing apples and peaches @connorsfarm… https://t.co/Ntue9YEqFI— Manikka Bowman (@Manikka Bowman) 1631151993.0
Excited small children pick a few apples above the bag limit and security at Connors Farm in Danvers accuses a fami… https://t.co/ydLDNiK6NA— Peggy Hernández (@Peggy Hernández) 1631200354.0
@ManikkaB @connorsfarm I am so sorry this happened to you and your family. My husband and I were planning to take o… https://t.co/fzYBfTiVeu— Nina Darby (@Nina Darby) 1631205276.0
My family goes apple picking every year. We will definitely NOT go to Connors farm in Danvers. https://t.co/C7NodPYxSN— Daniel Glasser (@Daniel Glasser) 1631232816.0
Bowman said the officer who arrived was "tempered" but never seemed to take her side of the story seriously.
Instead, he sided with the employees and accused Bowman of "playing the race card" when she tried to defend herself from the accusation of theft.
After sharing their story, the family requested Connors Farm's owners apologize for the incident and how they were treated. They also requested the owners look into diversity training for their staff and refund the money Bowman paid and donate it to the Essex County Community Foundation to support their racial equity work.
In a Facebook post, the farm committed to diversity training, but didn't initially agree to the refund donation.
However, before that post, someone else with access to their social media account made a comment that referenced this incident, getting the Farm into another heaping of trouble.
The comment read:
"Just a friendly reminder that we reserve the right to inspect all backpacks, bags and strollers that exit our orchard."
The comment was deleted but the backlash eventually caused Connors Farm to private their page and it was still inaccessible as of this writing.
Strange someone there would double-down on this.
...was flooded with thousands of comments. Connors Farm said in the post it regrets the incident and has apologized… https://t.co/j2n6CRT41y— tgifrani (she/her) (@tgifrani (she/her)) 1631396293.0
Connors Farm in Danvers this morning: "... We reserve the right to inspect all backpacks, bags and strollers that e… https://t.co/j8xON4hDTG— Rick Sobey 👨🏻💻 (@Rick Sobey 👨🏻💻) 1631218653.0
The farm which is near my hometown doubled down on Facebook in response to community questions. A friend or staff m… https://t.co/0PYUFQ5N3p— peacevehicle (@peacevehicle) 1631216847.0
@OhFFS19 @BostonGlobe I am from New England and know there are plenty of orchards that do just fine without harassi… https://t.co/APoulJ93HR— Every Day I’m Waffling (@Every Day I’m Waffling) 1631661713.0
@ManikkaB @connorsfarm We also acknowledge that the Connors Farm statement came after it made social media posts th… https://t.co/wnJmirpCbf— Dina Climate Change Voter 🌍 (@Dina Climate Change Voter 🌍) 1631661414.0
In a later update, Bowman and Myers say they have received apologies from the town of Danvers and from the owners of Connors Farm. The Farm also made the commitment to them for mandatory racial equity training for their staff and to make the donation Bowman requested.
Hopefully, the owner's word is a little stronger than whoever made the comments on the Facebook page, and real change comes to the farm.