Our April issue contains a column by Robert Turner on one way to help regional farmers keep growing and the public stay fed: community supported agriculture (CSA). Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project, better known as ASAP, is a good source for ways to find farmstands, CSAs, farmers markets – in a nutshell, local food, something we should all support in good times and bad. Find the latest information, including a means of donating to small farmers during this crisis, at ASAPConnections.org.
Local residents are seeing the benefits of gardening at home or in community gardens. OrganicGrowersSchool.org sends a clear message: “Growing Food Is Not Cancelled.” The website offers a list of resources and helpful tips on all aspects of gardening.
At LivingWebFarms.org, find a comprehensive archive of videos on gardening as well as many other ways to live a sustainable life, something we all realize the importance of at a time like this when usual supply chains, distribution outlets and methods for accomplishing the smallest things in our daily lives are disrupted. And when times are better, be sure to visit anew all of the websites you find beneficial and show them some appreciation. These nonprofit organizations work tirelessly year round to educate growers of all skill levels with farm tours, workshops, classes and conferences.
B. B. Barns, celebrating 32 years as a full-service garden company, and one of the businesses affected by Buncombe County’s March 26 “Stay Home-Stay Safe” order, has begun offering online and phone call orders for curbside pick-up or free delivery to zip codes 28803, 28704, 28776 and 28732. Find the inventory available at BBBarns.com, or call 828.650.7300. Garden coaching consultations have been discounted to $40 an hour.
Many farmers markets have also been affected by limitations on business operations at this time, but organizers are working to make produce accessible. “In Brevard, we’re working hard to keep the Transylvania Farmers’ Market open with an abundance of caution and a plethora of options for sourcing local food,” says market manager Leslie Logemann. To that end, the market offers drive-up service with runners making purchases and bringing bags to customers as well as direct sales and delivery options.
Some farmers markets that are closed suggest contacting vendors directly through website directories. ASAP’s Online Local Food Guide provides contact information for markets throughout Western North Carolina. Some small pop-up markets are being set up now, with opening dates for the larger markets scheduled for May. The ASAP Farmers Market at A-B Tech has plans to operate as an interim outdoor farmers market as long as necessary. Purchases there are made via a secure online portal to avoid person-to-person transactions. Customers may also donate at the time of purchase to help cover ASAP’s operational costs and shortages. Farmers will be paid in full for products sold.
In Black Mountain, the nonprofit Bounty & Soul is supporting local farmers by purchasing normally donated produce in order to offer its pop-up markets – Produce to People – in Black Mountain and Swannanoa. Bags handed out curbside include a variety of fruits and vegetables, household staples and handwritten notes of encouragement along with cut flowers. “I feel like we were called to do this because not only do we give out food, but the type of food we’re giving is crucial, especially in a time of crisis,” says Ali Casparian, executive director of Bounty & Soul. Learn more at BountyandSoul.org.