As the situation with COVID-19 evolves, we are aware of a vast and urgent need for resources, for connections, and for sharing best practices with our community. Therefore, we are launching this weekly newsletter, and an online page with aggregated resources, as well as a farmer database, all focused on building a resilient food system. This is our way to share resources, to let you know about discussion forums or trainings we are offering, and to update you on our advocacy and policy work.
Also, the newly-created NOFA-VT COVID Response Fund will support both long and short term needs. In the near term, it will provide additional funds for our Farmer Emergency Fund to provide critical support for farmers in times of emergency to help them recover and ultimately become more resilient farmers, including but not limited to our dairy farmer relief milking effort. It will also help pay for additional NOFA-VT Farm Shares this season so more low-income and vulnerable Vermonters can have access to subsidized CSAs, and farmers continue to have robust markets. In addition, this fund will pay to secure technical assistance for businesses looking to adjust their marketing channels (for example learning how to do direct and online sales), protecting food access for all and ensuring viable businesses for farms at the same time. It will, in short, mitigate the very real harm facing our most vulnerable populations.
The fund also supports our longer term, systems-change work. We cannot return to business as usual after this crisis. We must take this moment of disruptive change to build programs and policies that lay the path to a healed food system with ecology and justice at its heart. This includes policy and advocacy work, convening innovative conversations, pushing public conversations about resilience, and providing community organizing and education efforts that will make us stronger on the other side.
More ideas to help create a resilient local food system:
- Sign up for a CSA share today to support a local farmer and get food all season long!
- Share these school meal delivery/pickup sites to ensure all our children are fed!
- Support the NOFA-VT Summer Farm Share Program, which offers subsidized CSA shares to limited-income Vermonters. Or apply for the program here.
- Shop at a farm stand to keep farms viable and access local food!
- Shop at farmers markets! On Friday, April 24th, the Agency of Agriculture, the Department of Health and the Agency of Commerce & Community Development released updated guidelines for farmers markets that largely reflect those put forward by NOFA-VT, and - critically - support access to local food for customers using 3SquaresVT/SNAP benefits. We have continuously advocated for the safe operation of farmers markets during the COVID-19 crisis, and we are grateful to the administration for putting out clear guidance that will meet the needs of community members and support farmers during this critical time of year.
- Check out these food access resources for all. Seniors, you can call 1-800-642-5119 for support!
Please reach out to us if you have ideas or concerns that NOFA-VT staff might be able to help with! We are trying to adapt nimbly to address the needs of our producers, members, and community as they emerge. We are eager to be a part of the solution, and to help grow a food system that is local, resilient, and strongly interwoven.