Home » Is it the best of markets or the worst of markets?

There are many sleepless nights in the life of a farmer. The last few weeks have been no exception.

On our small veggie farm in SW Colorado, we have gone from thinking we have NO markets due to restaurant and farmers’ market closers, to wondering if this could be the highest demand there has EVER been for local food!

In the last two weeks, sales of our winter greens at a local market have quadrupled! Yet, half of the plant starts in our greenhouse are for restaurants that may or may not be in business when the harvest comes!

If you know a local farmer (or you are one), you’re probably already aware that, many of us are very confused right now! 

Seeds are planted, employees are hired, and markets have never been so insecure!

Here’s a glimpse into some of the questions ROP farmers have shared with us:

“Do we jump back in with CSA after dropping it last year? Shall we offer to deliver to individual customers? Aggregate with other farms for deliveries? What software is available for this sort of online sales?”

“Will the farmers that rely on restaurants that are now turning to retail sales impact our direct to consumer sales?” 

“The logical trend seems to be towards allowing farmers markets and take-out food to continue, with health measures instituted. Will people show up in the same numbers? Will enough additional people show up to make up for the loss in restaurant sales?” 

“How long will this last? How long do we need to set up an alternative way of selling? Can I unload all my produce?”

“We are running low on dust masks for our elevator operations. We load grain in dusty conditions!”

“Should Covid–19 testing be obtained by each food vendor and results be posted by each vendor?”

“Our primary crop is a “luxury item” – saffron. Is this not the time to be trying to sell such unessential things?”

“Will anyone buy flowers anymore? Will flowers be allowed at farmers markets since they may not be deemed essential?”

We want to continue to promote the hundreds of farms that have been approved for the Real Organic Project certification.

Our latest “Know Your Farmer” video is from Kyle and Rebecca Dionne at KRD Farms in Marengo, Illinois, West of Chicago.

I met Kyle and Rebecca last summer in their second season of farming. They were on rented land, both were still working off the farm, and they were expecting their first child. Who has enough time in the day for all of that? No one!

I too started an organic veggie farm on rented land with an infant and know all too well how difficult it is to juggle it all! 

I remember actually being angry at all those pictures I saw of happy mothers farming with happy babies in their arms. Yeah right!

Except that I too have a picture like that! It was captured the ONE time that it actually happened! And I guarantee you, not much work was done that day!

So, here’s to all the hard-working families bringing us the soil-grown, pasture-raised food that we all want to eat! And here’s to all the people that seek out this beautiful food!

Thank you, Thank you! 

It is an overwhelming time for many, but we continue to be inspired by those who are going above and beyond to support their communities and other farmers. We wanted to share some of the inspiring work that we’ve been hearing about over the past couple of weeks.

A few days ago, we received this heartwarming message from Melanie Elzinga at Alderspring Ranch:

Hello there,

My family owns and operates Alderspring Ranch in central Idaho. We’ve been raising grass fed and certified organic beef for over 25 years, shipping nationwide for 17. With the recent social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates in response to the coronavirus pandemic, many small-scale producers are unable to utilize sales channels like local pickup, buying clubs, and farmer’s markets that they have relied on in the past.

We felt we could do some good by sharing our expertise and developing a completely free step-by-step course to help folks make the transition to selling online and shipping their goods in 5 days. 

We’re hoping you can help us support small producers by spreading the word about the course. I’ve attached links to the course itself and to our Instagram post.

Thanks so much for your time and your support of U.S. agriculture.  

Melanie Elzinga

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE COURSE FROM ALDERSPRING RANCH

Jonathan and Allison from UProoted Farm in Michigan have recently launched their online store for food orders and are providing no-contact deliveries by instructing customers to place an ice chest or cooler outside of their front door.

UProoted is also committed to supporting those who are struggling to access food during this time.

From @uprootedfarm Instagram account: 

Like most everyone else, we at UProoted Farm have been doing a lot of analysis of what business might look like this year.

We don’t have all of the answers, but we have come to the conclusion that we want to do our part to support the local food system and local families of the Upper Peninsula. 

We will not be scaling back our production at all this year…instead we will be producing as much food as we can. In addition, we would like to adopt 10 families in the Western Alger and Marquette counties area that have been negatively impacted by the novel coronavirus into a “pay what you can, if you can” while we “supply what we can, when we can” system. 

If you, or someone you know, is struggling to put food on the table amidst all of this economic uncertainty, please reach out to us privately via our social media, email, or website (link here). Everyone who does so will remain completely anonymous! We’ll communicate the details of this offering individually with the families selected, but we envision that we’ll deliver one day a week into a cooler or box you leave on your front porch.

We currently have eggs and will shortly have microgreens, and as the season picks up steam we’ll have lots more quality, certified organic produce to offer — free of charge if need be! Please understand that as the situation is rapidly evolving day to day, we may need to contract this offering…but we might also be able to expand it beyond 10 families.

We look forward to not only supporting these families, but also working with other farmers, markets, and outlets in supporting the greater movement to connect the community with local food during this unprecedented time.

Hopefully this will seem like an overreaction in the coming weeks and months, but at the moment, it feels like the right thing to do.

Stay healthy, stay safe, 
Jonathan & Allison

As the pandemic travels through, please support your local farms.  And please remember to CONTINUE to support your local farms when all this is over!

Yours in the dirt,

Linley