Feeding Folks in Need: Share #2 – June 17, 2020
In mid April, as the the reality of the pandemic was setting in, we got worried.
We knew veggie shares would be in high demand due to closed or restricted farmers markets, and for that we were (and still are!) very grateful. However, due to the high variety of crops we offer through these shares, we weren’t able to expand our capacity to meet that higher demand.
So we worried, because thirty percent of what our farm grows is sold through wholesale markets. There are a small number of crops like bok choi, lettuce, fennel, scallions, beets, etc. that we grow in large amounts to sell in this different revenue stream. We also wholesale the extra crops we have that our veggie share members don’t purchase or want.
Traditionally these crops have been sold to the Willy Street Coops and to restaurants. The closure of restaurants was worrisome to us.
Swirly head syndrome abounded. Where would we sell all this food? Should we scale back our planting calendar? Should we harvest it and donate it? How would we afford the labor if we can’t sell it? How can we plan when none of us have any idea what will happen?
As we worried about how to sell the food we’d eventually be growing, meat and dairy farmers were dumping milk and euthanizing animals.
Meanwhile, in other parts of our community, many families had much more serious concerns. Their questions were, how can afford to keep food on the table? How are we gonna feed our kids?
Thankfully, leaders in Dane County put money to this problem, and connected local producers and families experiencing food insecurity. They gave $3 million dollars to support an effort that would pay to purchase food from farms, pack it into boxes, and deliver those food boxes to families in need through area pantries and community centers. And word on the street is that they plan to increase and extend this funding through October.
We are moving more food than ever through this new wholesale channel. We sell food to 2nd Harvest. 2nd Harvest uses space at Epic to pack thousands of food boxes full of food from local producers, and then distributes it to those in need.
I have always found growing food to be extremely satisfying. But never have I felt such purpose in what we are doing. It feels so good to be able to help in our small way through this pandemic. Everyone deserves healthy food, whether one can afford it or not.
Every day we are feeding people healthy, nourishing food. Some of you pay for it because you are able. Others receive it for free because they cannot. And this is exactly how it should be, in my opinion.
I feel especially proud to be a farmer this year. And I want to give a special shout out to Sheena Tesch at Rooted, and Scott Williams at Garden to Be, who have been pivotal in connecting our small farm to this larger emergency food effort.
Cheers and enjoy your veggies!