COVID-19 and Local Food
A guide for local consumers and producers to navigate the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dakota Rural Action creates a guide for both consumers and producers to continue to support our local food production.
Spring is a time when we prepare gardens for new seedlings, clear pots for new flowers, visit farmers’ markets, and enjoy fresh, locally produced fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs, grains and celebrate SoDak Grown!
COVID-19’s arrival in South Dakota has created an unprecedented disruption to these seasonal plans. Although the regular farmers’ market season is still several weeks away, there’s a significant chance they will be postponed or potentially canceled — an economic catastrophe for the farmers you have long supported.
When you connect with farmers and buy their goods, you help protect those who rely on sales for their livelihoods and who have already invested in supplies, seed and seasonal operating costs.
Just as there are additional ways for local farmers to reach consumers at this time, there are outlets for you to engage with farmers, establish direct contact, and make your purchases. Dakota Rural Action has created two guides to help consumers and producers continue to support and help build a local, resilient food system.
This guide helps you navigate these uncertain times by offering:
- Ideas on how to initiate and maintain contact with local farmers.
- Questions to ask local farmers about how you can buy their products.
- Resources to prepare for any changes that might occur in your local market.
- Local Foods Directory: Dakota Rural Action compiles the South Dakota Local Foods Directory, a consumer’s guide to eating locally – this connects consumers to farmers and other producers.
Thanks to social media and other digital methods of communication, it has never been easier for you to reach out directly to your local farmer and offer positive reinforcement along with your business.
Many South Dakota farms maintain a regular presence on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram — sharing news about their operation and information about product availability.
However, now is the time to begin a direct dialogue with local farmers. Don’t wait until they are inundated with requests.
Consider reaching out to them in the following ways:
- Search social media for farms from whom you’ve purchased before and follow them.
- Search online to see if those farms have a website with contact information.
- Call, text, email or message farmers and ask them the following questions:
- Are their products available through local grocery stores?
- Do they sell to any local restaurants from which you could order takeout or delivery?
- If you want to buy direct, what products will they have available and when?
- If the local farmers’ market doesn’t open, how would they deliver their products?
Homegrown Sioux Empire, the Sioux Falls area local chapter of Dakota Rural Action has also taken action in response to Covid-19. In the middle of a pandemic, grassroots community members are coming together to build resiliency. Homegrown Sioux Empire is offering to help coordinate and network land, materials, labor, and guidance to support folks in our community in establishing raised-bed, boulevard planting, backyard chicken coops, and gardens outside of their homes. If you or someone you know would be interested in having and maintaining a home garden in our area and/or if you would like to volunteer to help set one up, please Check out Homegrown Resiliency at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/215708572970036/
Homegrown Sioux Empire has been focusing on providing education, skill-shares and tours on growing, sharing, and preserving what you grow for over the past 10 years and is working to empower the community during this very trying time.