Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in America, one scene has been typical; empty grocery store shelves as people flock to stores preparing to stay in for an undetermined period of time. As businesses began to shut down one by one, local farmers’ markets were ordered to shut its doors. The Indy Winter Farmers Market, which runs from November through April each year in downtown Indianapolis, was forced to suspend operations seven weeks early. This left local farmers and food producers to scramble to figure out a new business strategy.
Farmers’ markets are a critical ingredient to our local economy, food systems, and communities. However, there was a bit of a debate about whether or not farmers’ markets were deemed essential. On March 23, 2020, Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb issued an executive order deeming farmers’ markets essential, which is vital to our local food system. The new order, however, was a little too late for the Indy Winter Farmers Market, as we were still instructed to remain close.
Farmers’ markets have long served as a way to increase food access in low-income areas and support small farmers and local businesses while bolstering a healthy, locally empowering economy.
During this stressful and uncertain time, you may be wondering how you can support your local community, specifically, the farming community. If you are well and able, it’s important to lend a hand and support your community in any way possible. The Indiana farming community needs your support now more than ever. Here are a few ways you can continue to support your local farmers directly.
- Order online. In the wake of the current health crisis, many farmers have shifted their business online, offering pre-order, pickup, and delivery all through their websites.
- Signing up for a CSA. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a distribution system that directly connects farmers and consumers. In short: people buy shares of a farm’s harvest in advance and then receive a portion of the crops as they’re harvested. Ordering a CSA is the perfect way to add an assortment of locally grown veggies to your fridge. It also offers farmers an influx of cash flow to allow them to buy seeds or tools they need throughout the season. If you can, consider donating a CSA share to a family member or a friend in need.
- Shop at your local farmers’ market. Your local farmers’ markets will look a little different to ensure the safety of everyone. This year, summer markets will offer online pre-order, with drive-through pickups and other modifications to keep you safe.
The question I would ask everyone, do you value the food you eat? Then it’s time to start appreciating the farmers that produce it.