Support local farms, farmers markets for food security

by Anna Prizzia

Local farms and food business are on the frontline helping us during this challenging time as we manage response to COVID-19. Our food system is dynamic and critical to the resilience of our community, state and country. Local farms and food businesses are working hard to provide healthy, safe food to their consumers. Our local producers can offer fresh products while many of our national and international supply chains have been shut down by the pandemic. 

In order to protect our local food security, it is vital to support our local farms, and it is a silver lining during this crisis to see that our community is doing just that.  

If you haven’t already, check out one of our communities several great farmers markets throughout the week that are taking precautions to keep their customers safe – Grove Street on Mondays, a new market starting in Celebration Point on Wednesdays, and Haile and the 441 Market on Saturdays. 

For those that prefer a limited contact way of shopping, some growers offer delivery, and Working Food has partnered with several farms for a drive-through market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Many of these markets accept SNAP benefits, some even doubling SNAP so that local food is even more affordable.    

As summer draws closer, our farmers and their fields will take a rest from the heat by mid- June.  This is the time our farmers focus on rebuilding soil and planning for the new season. It is a great time to think about how you can shift your purchasing habits for the coming season, too.

If you haven’t considered it, you might think about joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for next season.  In a CSA, customers pay upfront for the entire season (typically from October to June). By doing this, you are investing in the farm by essentially purchasing a share of it. This upfront payment enables farmers to finance the early stages of growing: seeds, equipment, labor, etc. In return, customers get a share of the farm products typically weekly or bi-weekly. Some farms offer different options for the size of your household, payment plans, and an option to customize what is in your share. 

There are two main types of CSAs: workplace and community. Produce and sometimes other products such as honey, yogurt, eggs or even meat, are packaged and delivered to a convenient place for you to pick up, either at a market or right at your place of work – such as the Gator CSA at UF. A few farms that offer CSAs locally include Siembra!, Family Garden, Swallowtail, and Frog Song Farm. 

A CSA can be a little overwhelming for those that haven’t eaten seasonally before.Suddenly you have a bounty of local vegetables to cook with every week. One way to ease into a CSA is to share with a friend or neighbor. Not only do you get to split the vegetables as you learn more about what you like and how to prepare them, but you can share recipes and ideas. It’s a fun way to diversify your diet.

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