The year is 2020 and a contagious viral plague is sweeping the globe. We are advised to stay inside, to shelter in place, to focus on essential business and sacrifice frivolities in this time.
Thankfully, something essential that we can still enjoy and indulge in this time of sacrificial uncertainty is nature and food.
There is a global plague and yet, the potatoes need to be planted. The beets, the carrots, the onions. Seeds need to be sown. Beds weeded. The plague does not stop the sun from waking up the flowers in the trees or the need for those trees to be pruned.
The passage of time recorded in an apricot tree, before and after spring pruning.
For small scale sustainable farmers, the difference between plague and no plague is hard to see at times. Some could argue our lifestyle is one that is suited to plague. A post-plague solution perhaps. A farmer in the wintry off-season is so reclusive they seem long acquainted with the idea of self-isolation. A farmer in the busy summer growing season can go days and weeks just looking at the ground and the trees.
Often I say we make so much friendly eye contact at the market because it is the one day a week we get to look at so many eyes. And I will miss the market this plagued summer.
Our farmer’s market, and others across the country and continent are scrambling to think of ways to bring local food from producers putting their whole hearts into making it, to customers ready to support them, without transmitting deadly plague.
The market stall during happier plague free times.
It’s difficult. Because the things we love about a local farmers’ market – the large number of farmers travelling from different regions to personally sell their crops to the public – are now the things that could pose risks to the public and to the farmers involved in the local food supply chain.
So small farmers, perhaps the most intentionally tech averse slice of the population, are thrust into the digital world. Making virtual storefronts and websites and newsletters. Trying to ensure they are performing their essential service for a reason. That it is not more fiscally advantageous to actually give up farming and walk away from small scale food production, than it is to grow food for people who may not get access to it in time.
With the help of government funding, our farmers’ market has set up a virtual storefront for its members through a website called Local line, our vendor stall can be found here. A list of our perennial products that can be shipped internationally can also be found here on this website. And all inquiries, orders, correspondence and electronic transfers can be funnelled to our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are unsure how long of a duration or how impactful this global plague will truly be. We know there is less toilet paper available. Ha ha, but seriously now there is a pulp shortage.
We are sitting inside of a paradox of concern. The more concern we show for stopping the plague, the less concern we need to show. If we try to ignore this global plague, it may impact our lives so severely we will be forced to acknowledge it through intense sacrificial lifestyle changes for a very long time. I like the first option better.
Perhaps because as a farmer, we are already living in quasi-solitude, already resigned to hard work and semi-poverty.
Depending on the duration and severity of this plague, we might all be returning to a familiarity with nature and food production. But we are not doomsayers, we are optimistic realists and we hope to be able to keep farming and bringing healthy and sustainably farmed food to our community safely, in a way that continues to work for both farmer and consumer.
Nobody knows if food will become as precious as toilet paper. Nobody knows if elderly or at risk people who regularly find local food at our weekly market will have access or knowledge about finding us online. We hope so. You’re here, right? And we are thankful you are.