What an intense spring we are all experiencing. As we wrestle with how to create new ways of being at home and in our communities (while keeping our distance, working from home with kids at home, and adapting our businesses to operate during pandemic times) many of us are also experiencing information overload.
Land to Table would like to echo the thoughts and sentiment of most organizations in that we support the efforts to maintain social distancing to keep ourselves and our communities as healthy as possible. Also, we are optimistic about the opportunity to draw value and awareness to the importance of creating a strong local food system. Creating opportunities for more deeply connecting to each other through food seems more important than ever. We also want to acknowledge some of the challenges that many are facing: we know that those among us who were food insecure some weeks ago are suffering the most during these times; we know that with restaurants closing, many small farms are having to make quick changes as to where and how produce and meat are being sold; some are worried about attending farmers markets, though many outdoor venues will be essential access points for fresh food; and for individuals and farmers alike you may have noticed that your seed provider is sold out of seed or overloaded with orders and slower to ship.
It is the mission of the L2T Network to catalyze connections and collaboration in order to strengthen our regional food system and so if there is any way we can help in overcoming barriers, sharing resources or connecting individuals and organizations during these challenging times we would like to hear from you. Send your ideas/notes to Liz – firstname.lastname@example.org – We will be hosting online gatherings with various food system groups to carry on with conversations that began in person earlier this year. Please also stay tuned for a network wide Zoom call/conversation at the end of April.
In the meantime, we have gathered some resources that may be helpful. As a start check out this blog post – Resiliency during Pandemonium – by local farmer Annelise Grube-Cavers of Fresh Valley Farm!
COVID-19 Food Safety and Small Business Resources
Health and safety consideration for farmers related to COVID-19 – see this blog post by the University of Vermont – https://blog.uvm.edu/cwcallah/2020/03/18/considerations-for-fruit-and-vegetable-growers-related-to-coronavirus-covid-19/
Resources for small businesses affected by COVID-19 – https://smallbusinessbc.ca/article/resources-for-small-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19/
See updates from the Young Agrarians website – Now’s the Time to Support Your Local Farmer
We have heard that some community members are expressing concern about the safety of attending farmers markets and while some municipalities have cancelled some markets the BC Centre for Disease Control has deemed them low risk for transmission of COVID-19 and can be safer than grocery stores (they are outdoors and have fewer people handling produce). See the BC Association of Farmers Markets website for updates and resources – https://bcfarmersmarket.org/bcafm-update-on-covid-19/
As we experience disruptions in global food supplies (that stock most of our large grocery stores) farmers markets will become even more essential access points for fresh food. The Vancouver Farmers Market explains how markets will look and operate in order to maintain proper social distancing and safety for all. Learn more at: https://eatlocal.org/covid-19-update-march-19-2/
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
On the right side of the Certified Organic Association of BC (COABC) webpage there is a search function where you can search producers or products by region. Look up your regional farms and see if they offer a CSA box (some are creating creative delivery options)! This is the time of year to sign up.
Here are some farms in the North Okanagan offering a CSA harvest box:
- Enderberry Farm
- Green Croft Gardens
- Pilgrims Produce
- Fresh Valley Farm – meat box
- North Okanagan Good Food Box (sourcing from local farmers in season)
Others just outside of our region include:
Ways to Support Emergency Food Programs (in Vernon)
- The Salvation Army is still receiving donations of groceries at their warehouse(5400 24 Street). Knock on the door or ring buzzer. Social distancing will be accommodated. Cash donations can be mailed, made on-line or cheques dropped off in the mail slot of the House of Hope (3303 32nd Avenue, Vernon)
- The Upper Room Mission is fundraising in order to fully reopen. Donations can be mailed, or dropped off in person at the Upper Room Mission on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. (3403 27th Avenue). You can also donate via e-transfer to email@example.com