The importance of local farmers in a time of crisis
Among those in our quickly-growing local farming community, we keep hearing the same sentiment shared over and over again: farming is more important now than ever.
But they’re not talking about any kind of farming. Local, community-supported agriculture (CSA), in particular, has the unique ability to meet the needs of people in times of crisis. This is especially true during COVID-19.
As we combat the uncertain future of our farm education, this thought provides some peace. But how are small farms better suited to meet the needs of those participating in social-distancing and quarantine?
Pick-up and delivery distribution systems
Local farmers have been operating on delivery and pick-up distribution systems since their inception. Many have CSA shares, where families can subscribe to receive fresh vegetables, eggs, and even bread every week.
In the midst of a pandemic, these systems are ideal for both the farmer and the customer. The farmer assembles a basket of delicious and nutritious veggies and herbs ready for pick-up or delivery. Either way, the customer can enjoy their fresh produce without ever having to enter a grocery store.
Local farming means knowing where your food comes from.
With cases of COVID-19 around the country and around the world, now is a good time to start researching where your food is grown and processed. The best, healthiest, and safest option is usually your local grower. When you buy food from a grower near you, your food is planted, grown, and harvested all in the same place. This is one of the many reasons we are becoming farmers.
Supporting your local economy by keeping money in your community
In today’s food industry, your dinner often comes from far-flung places across the globe. Food can be grown in one location, processed and packaged in another, then transported to your grocery store.
Buying from a local farmer cuts out the middle man. When you support a local farmer with your business, you’re giving money back to your community.
As this pandemic grows more serious, one thing becomes very clear: we all need access to food. If a disaster ever causes grocery stores to close, where will we turn? We will not spend the rest of our lives on lockdown, but we must support local farmers. Local farmers will be there in good times and bad to assure our food system remains intact.
Limited human exposure
One of the benefits of local farms that they’re generally pretty small. Only a few people ever come in direct contact with what eventually ends up on your plate or in your bowl.
Instead of romaine hailing from the Salinas Valley, destined for a midwestern grocer, a local farmer is focused on the people in their community. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 linked to contaminated produce from a local farmer, it will be much easier to find the origin and prevent further exposure.
Timing is everything
The dawning of COVID-19 is challenging for many people working in many different industries, but especially for farmers as they prepare for the growing season. Local farms are especially uncertain about their financial viability over the next several months, but you can help them cope with the uncertain economic situation that lies ahead.
If you’re passionate about supporting local farmers check out these guides to find a CSA near you!
Iowa City: Little Village 2019 CSA Guide for the Iowa City Area (2020 is coming soon)
Iowa: ISU Extension Iowa CSA Directory