Our local farmers need our help. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a potentially devastating impact on local farms. In a recent ASAP survey of farmers about the effects of the COVID-19 emergency, eighty percent reported an immediate decrease in customers and sales. Two thirds reported that if disruptions persist for several months, the long-term financial hardship would be severe enough to result in bankruptcy, business closure, and being forced to leave the industry. Our communities simply can not afford to lose our farms.
All family-owned farms depend on local markets to sustain their livelihoods. Not only do farms provide fresh, nutritious foods for the community, but they are also important drivers of local economies. Family farms that have been passed down for generations are just as innovative and resilient as ever, but they are all facing unprecedented challenges that will take a community effort to address. Without help, many of them will not be able to survive this crisis.
This is the time for us all to come together and save our farms. Here is how you can help your local farmers during this time.
1. Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Consider signing up for a CSA. CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture. CSAs are localized food production and distribution systems that directly connects farmers and consumers. People buy “shares” of a farm’s harvest in advance and then receive a portion of the crops as they are harvested over the course of a season. This up-front influx of cash helps farmers buy seeds and tools at the beginning of their season, and allows you to be a stakeholder in a local farm.
CSAs are a great way to get regular shipments of produce from farms in your community. If you have the means, consider joining a CSA program, or even donating a CSA share to a family in need.
2. Farmer’s Markets
To get to know your local farmers, try shopping at a farmers market. In many states, farmers markets have been deemed essential businesses, and are innovating with drive-through pickups and other modifications to keep you safe.
Farmers markets are important for many reasons. Farmers markets are a critical component in rebuilding local food economies. By providing a cost-effective, retail sales opportunity for local food producers, farmers markets help make farming profitable.
Farmers markets are cost-effective for farmers because they provide brief periods of intense retail sales at a low cost. Unlike grocery stores or public markets, farmers markets ask their customers to come at the same time – for brief periods of time -once or twice a week; thereby minimizing the retail labor cost for the farmer.
3. Order Produce Online
Ordering produce online is a great way to stock up on a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables without having to leave the house. Currently, there are plenty of healthy produce subscription boxes that can be shipped straight to your doorstep, so you don’t even have to step outside to get vegetables, fruits, fresh eggs, and other local goods.
These online grocery subscription services are similar to a CSA (community supported agriculture), as they both connect customers with local farmers. But instead of heading over to drop-off locations to pick up your weekly CSA box of local organic produce, online shipments are sent directly to your home.
One example is The Produce Box, an online ordering system that works with more than 100 farmers across the state of North Carolina to bring local farm-fresh produce, dairy, and meats to their subscribed customers every single week.
A simple Google Search for words like “local produce delivery” or “farm to market delivery service” will provide you with localized results tailored to your specific location.
4. Donate to a Relief Fund
Donate to a farmer relief fund, such as the Appalachian Grown Farmer Relief Fund. To respond to this unprecedented need, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) is asking for community support to strategically address emergency needs. As available, funds will be used for public health preparedness grants to farmers markets, immediate needs grants to farmers, and to purchase unsold food for donation to hunger programs.
Relief funds like these rely solely on donations from people like you. Please consider donating today and showing your support for our local farmers during this time.
AgriFacture is a family-owned business that has spent the last decade developing cutting-edge methodologies to change the entire dynamics of agriculture. AgriFacture’s model of controlled environmental agriculture allows consumers to enjoy local, fresh, pesticide-free, nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and herbs year-round, regardless of where they live.
AgriFacture currently utilizes a 10,000-square-foot research and development facility in Flat Rock, NC and plans to build an even larger 40,000-square-foot indoor farm. Unlike other commercial vertical farms on the market today, AgriFacture changes the dynamic by utilizing robotics and automation to control the entire process – from seed to fork.