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You need farms and farms need you.
It's safe to say this pandemic is bringing up many things, and we first and foremost must keep focused on the immediate needs of those most directly affected by COVID-19, meaning those afflicted with the illness or most vulnerable. We must also explicitly support and appreciate the caregivers, nurses, doctors, and responders on the front lines who put their lives on the line each day. Our deep gratitude and thanks for your service.
A second ring of folks in this are those deemed "essential" services and workers, and farmers are listed among them in New York's list. As shelves empty and are slow to refill, the thin veil of the grocery store is getting thinner. It relies on a complex web of distribution, which is easily disturbed. It also offers consumers a high-risk scenario in the context of a global pandemic, as products pass through many hands and travel many miles to arrive at your local super market. (with the exception of those markets who prioritize local farmers)
Our family has been struck over the past few weeks at the incredible local food system we have here in the central Finger Lakes, in tact, functioning, and ready to serve more. We have been able to easily source milk, bread, vegetables, and meat - all from a person or a family we can contact directly. We can arrange to swing by the farm or pick up at a central location, all with no contact. And we experience a win-win because staying healthy isn't just about limiting potential exposure to COVID-19, it's about have a healthy body and immune system. Getting food direct from a farm means you limit your exposure AND buffer your body immunity at once.
Farmers have always been adapting to changing times and changing markets. The willingness of farmers at this moment to not only work as hard as ever to prepare for the coming growing season AND shift their marketing to do more home deliveries and centralized pick ups is remarkable, to say the least. From our farm's perspective, it's necessary both to serve our mission as well as to keep our business afloat. We breathe a sign of relief each time someone steps up to buy something from us. We know it's a choice that takes a little more time and resource, but it is cost effective in the quality of the food and the environmental stewardship behind each dollar spent.
That's something we often don't talk about - our farms mission. We didn't start a farm because we wanted to get rich. (good thing!) We started farming because we believe in a farm as a healing force for the natural world and for social systems. We wanted to practice and learn how we could farm while reforesting our landscape. And we wanted to offer nutrient dense foods that aren't as easy to find around here. And so, we make maple syrup, pasture sheep and ducks for meat and eggs, and grow mushrooms. Each of these products offers a critical food for people, and each of our systems builds the ecological wealth of the land each year.
Our farm is unique in it's place and who we are, but we share a common thread with all the producers around us; each is driven by passion and purpose, not by dollars. We keep going to serve our communities, and we are rewarded and challenged with long days outside, tending to plants, animals, and fungi. In this unprecedented time, we hope you know how much you need farms. We know that we really need you. See the list below of farms and markets to support, as a starting point.
Over the coming weeks we will be writing and sharing about aspects of the food system that are being stretched at this time, from our experience as a small diversified farm, to the struggles of farmworkers getting left out of the stimulus to ways you can increase you food and medicine security at home. We'll also share what we have available for ordering.
JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST for weekly emails with news and notes and our farm products you can order:
Steve & Elizabeth Gabriel
Wellspring Forest Farm
ACTIONS TO TAKE:
1) Support a local pick-up of farm goods:
the Press Bay Alley Food Transfer Hub in Ithaca is organizing over 15 farms and food producers for one convenient pick up:
2) Join a CSA for the coming season:
Our mushrooms and duck eggs can be found alongside two wonderful veggie CSAs starting in June. (http://csa.wellspringforestfarm.com)
Plowbreak CSA does weekly pick up in Ithaca (Thurs)
Sweetland Farm CSA at the farm in Trumansburg (Tues and Fri)
3) Prioritize markets and vendors who distribute local farm goods, and ask for more!! (our goods are here)
We appreciate Main Street Market's vision for a true community market:
The good folks at Greenstar are keeping distance and stocking local farm goods: https://greenstar.coop/a-healthy-co-op/
Hazelnut Kitchen is doing an amazing take home menu and is a champion local farm supporter: http://hazelnutkitchen.com/homepage/