Covid-19 + Starvation?
The Covid-19 crisis couldn’t have come at a worse time for farmers.
We need to plant, and to do that we need money. Many farmers, including ourselves, are still ordering seeds for the upcoming season. We also need to source grain seed to plant for a late-summer harvest. Keeping up market commercial activity is vital to farms as we are in our “starving times.” Food from last year is consumed or sold, and new food is yet to be harvested or mostly not-yet-planted.
For farmers, this is our most expensive time of year – a time with very little income and great expense. Without income we will have a hard time planting enough food (and acquiring the necessary inputs) for this year. This scenario is being enacted around the world, and the specter of having a catastrophic food shortage now looms. China has just mandated that farmers plant, being careful not to miss the grain planting window so that the country does not starve. Unfortunately, the roads are closed and many farmers cannot get into their fields. Today the communist party issued a warning: “We are holding the rice bowl for 1.4 billion people in our own hands.”
Many Americans are unfortunately so removed from the source of their food that they tend to think our free market will just miraculously provide all that we need, and in abundance. Local farmers here are just like local farmers in California, we are facing the same stresses and we are doing our best to keep the food pipeline full and still survive under stressful economic conditions – and that is in good times – as we produce perishable products.
Food takes months to grow. The conditions now will affect our food supply months from now.
Sun-bathed, fresh, non-circulated air markets are safer than indoor markets and afford greater opportunity to maintain safe social distance. Vegetables at local, open-air markets are freshly picked, less handled (and traveled), and have optimal nutrition for supporting healthy immune systems! By shopping at farmers’ markets, shoppers are avoiding closed-spaces with recycled air and supporting their local food systems, contributing toward increased food security.
Perhaps we could learn from Wuhan, China. The capital has responded to the virus by opening more open-air farmers’ markets to reduce the risk of pneumonia spreading.
People still need to eat. While we understand the weight of this scary situation, and the precautions we must take as a community, it is important that we do not neglect the danger that limiting the marketplace for small and medium-scale farmers poses. Perhaps it is also a good time to consider the benefits of the local markets to our food security and health.
In the meantime, our farm will continue to serve our community by offering delivery/drop-off locations (post to come soon). Community members may pre-order products, and we will bring them into a designated location at a to-be-set time.
The situation is still very fluid, and the city of Portland may not close down all farmers’ markets. We are still hoping to see some of our brave (but careful!) customers at PSU’s downtown market on Saturday. As it stands now, this market is still on. Thank you, everyone, for your support. We love being able to contribute toward the health and wellness of our community by providing fresh, poison-free food!
Your farmers (Lyle & Jessie)