Right now, we’re all being advised to stay home, limit our grocery shopping to no more than once a week, and stay calm. A visit to the supermarket reveals that many people are stockpiling bread, milk, meat, eggs, pasta and canned goods.
The coronavirus pandemic is putting a strain on every aspect of the food supply chain, from the people who raise and grow what we eat to the people who deliver it to our supermarkets and who stock the shelves.
Resilience is the capacity to experience an interruption in the supply of a critical need and bounce back without suffering a serious, permanent setback.
Vermont is the last stop, you might say, a dead-end, in the global food supply chain. The trucks make their deliveries and then head back south. It’s estimated that there is a 3-day supply of food in our grocery stores.
What can we do as a community to become resilient, more food-secure, and more self-reliant so we are less dependent on decisions made far away from home?
For starters, you can buy your food from our local farms and producers. Go to ACORN’s new interactive online map of nearly 250 farmers and food producers in the Champlain Valley who sell food locally at: http://www.acornvt.org/onlinemarket and order online. In addition to the map, ACORN is hosting a virtual farmers’ market to encourage people to shop online to order from local farms and food producers: http://www.acornvt.org/onlinemarket
Join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) – which offers weekly farm shares with fresh greens, vegetables and root crops. Many farms also offer meat, cheese, eggs, milk and more.
Remember this: on average, $0.48 of every dollar you spend at your local farm is re-circulated locally, compared to lessthan $0.14 of every dollar you spend when you shop for food at a chain store.
You can also start a garden! Gardening is great for your health, and makes us more psychologically resilient; it connects and grounds us in the natural world and provides fresh, nutrient-dense food to our bodies.
During both World Wars, our food system came under enormous pressure. Lots of farmers and food workers enlisted to fight and huge volumes of food were needed to feed our soldiers overseas.
So countries like United States, Canada and the United Kingdom encouraged citizens on the home-front to plant gardens.
The first step is to locate your garden. Everyone will be working with different available spaces, be it deep windowsills, sunny spaces indoors, a fire escape or balcony, access to a roof, a front or back yard – find the sun and life will find a way to grow.
Then start your seedlings indoors and take or transplant them outdoors – all you need is potting soil, a container, seeds (try High Mowing Seeds, Gardeners Supply or your local hardware store), water and sunlight. Or order your starts online from local nurseries through the ACORN site.
If you have plenty of outside space, consider square foot gardening (https://squarefootgardening.org/). Shoot for 200 square feet per person so if you are a family of four, you’ll need 800 square feet of growing space.
Then decide what you want to grow, make a garden plan and you’re on your way!
Here are some additional resources that will guide and inspire you every step of the way:
“The Time is Now for Vermont Gardens”
“Vegetable Garden” webinar by Charlie Nardozzi:
“How to Plant a Garden” by Robin Sweetser:
Charlie Nardozzi’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7107A30C3F710BC
Vermont Community Garden Network: https://vcgn.org/
If you are an experienced gardener and want to help others: Vegetable Garden Resources Map
ACORN (Addison County Relocalization Network) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community organization based in Middlebury, VT whose mission is to promote the growth and health of local food and agriculture in Vermont’s southern Champlain Valley. We are working with growers, schools, businesses and community and statewide partners to double the consumption of locally-grown food by 2020. For more information, go to http://acornvt.org/.