Recently, we’ve highlighted the rise of microgrid food systems and the movement towards buying local to address the resiliency challenges of COVID-19. Farm to table community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs are another aspect of local economies thriving as the pandemic disrupts distribution chains.
As news of large agricultural distributors dumping milk and plowing under crops coincides with reports of massive demand increases at food banks, community-oriented food systems are finding their niche as reliable, healthy options for sustainable food distribution.
Full Belly Farm, a 450-acre organic farm in Northern California delivers weekly boxes of fresh diverse produce to members who buy into their CSA program. Redmond, a founding partner of the farm, says, “The interest in getting local, fresh, organic produce just has skyrocketed during this crisis.”
Full Belly Farm, like many others, has seen their restaurant demand plummet, but the demand for their CSA boxes has jumped by 2,000 a week. People are also clamoring for add ons like wheat flour, olive oil, nuts, fruit juices, and even yarn.
The Community Alliance with Family Farmers, which supports CSAs across the country, says they have never experienced such a surge in demand. Even farms that usually produce for large-scale commercial buyers are partnering with smaller local farms to meet CSA demands.
As COVID-19 exposes the weaknesses in our agricultural system, being able to rely on food grown locally provides people with nutritious options and peace of mind. Knowing that your food was planted and harvested locally also offers some solace to those nervous about many hands touching their produce during a pandemic. Not having to stress about venturing out to the grocery store is just another added perk.
There are so many benefits of local food systems. They are consistently reliable food sources and the produce you get will be fresher. Buying from local farmers also supports fellow members of the community. Additionally, they are more sustainable and require fewer emissions to get food from the field to your fridge. If you don’t already, consider participating in a CSA program near you and experience the benefits of buying local long after the pandemic.