Garden Diaries: Stephanie Stewart, Part 3

 

 

 

Farmfront Board Member

Stevi Stewart

 

 

 

 

Behold the Squash Beast

Chicken Litter is really good fertilizer. Possibly too good.

This update may mean the most for those of you who have been following my journey into a new hobby of gardening. My first entry came about back in May with an update in June. At this point, you have gotten to see the transformation of a piece of my yard turn into my own little produce stand! When I last left you, I had been transplanting my seedlings. There’s was working on keeping weeds away and—wow—so much has happened since then.

To touch back on the addition of chicken litter to my soil, it seems to have worked but almost entirely too well. I have learned a lesson in making sure my plants have plenty of distance between them. At this point, my tomatoes are shrubs, and my yellow squash have a mind of their own! I have had to add additional stakes to all these plants. They are so big, they just want to topple over at the first sign of a small breeze.

 

Zucchini come in 8-balls Moment

So far, I have had the enjoyment of being able to harvest several yellow squashes. While I am enjoying as many fresh as I can, I have also been slicing, blanching and freezing them for later days. Jalapeños can also be frozen whole apparently. They must be cleaned and dry though before putting into bags! I have also gotten to try my hand at some quick refrigerator pickles, as well as jalapeños.

One oddity comes from the zucchini seeds I planted.  I had originally expected them to be like any other zucchini. When they started really growing though, I noticed something was amiss. These zucchini plants were taking over my garden, in yards worth of vines. For weeks, this plant continued to grow and blossom, but nothing ever came from the flowers. Finally, one day something began to develop that looked like a golf ball. It quickly turned into a large green softball looking vegetable. I am not sure if something was incorrect in my seed packet. Another mishap might have occurred. Now it is noticeably clear both of my zucchini plants are of the 8-ball variety.

The 8-ball Zucchini
Bushy Tomatoes

Heading

One technique I tried, sent to me via Pinterest by a friend of mine. Pinterest showed using a tomato cage to help your squash grow more upright. I thought this sounded like an amazing idea, and quickly put it into action. Little did I know how much difficulty this would come with. The squash I picked or this experiment, has turned into a squash producing machine. In fact, it has continued to produce so many tiny squashes I routinely must pick several off. That way it can spend its energy on helping the larger one’s finish developing.

My tomatoes plants, which I described earlier as shrubs, are now completely laden with green tomatoes. I do believe I should have taken care earlier in the season to “sucker” my plants. This would have prevented them from becoming the monstrosities they now are. Suckering tomatoes means you pinch off small branches early in their development. This makes the plant less bushy overall. While I am still patiently waiting to make my homemade salsa, fried green tomatoes may just have to do for a little while.

As my gardening story is now ending, I am so pleased that I decided to take this dive and create a new hobby for myself.  I may be convinced I will never be able to grow strawberries. They have not bloomed in months, and I have given up hope besides keeping them watered. However, I have been able to bribe other friends into adopting my seedlings and become amateur gardeners with me.

 

If you think you and a friend could both be on board, I totally recommend it.  Nothing says millennial more than sending your friends pictures of your plants to show their new progress, right?

 

Happy gardening friends!

 

 

 

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Farmfront On-Air: The Rural Grocery Revival

Farmfront On Air, Episode 2

 

There’s a change blossoming in the small towns throughout rural Illinois. Its bringing locally-grown food to the dinner tables of everyday people. Shaun Tyson is right in the middle of it opening Market on the Hill in rural Illinois. He joins Liz and Jenny to explain how small town shopping is growing its for the first time in decades, the difference between a food desert and food swamp, and how big and small can work together successfully.

 

 

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Get Started Finding Locally Grown Food

Farmfront Board Director

Elizabeth Nyman

Finding Food in a Pandemic

I remember back in March overhearing my husband talk to his sister on the phone. As a mother of a little one she was worried about all sorts of things in their grocery stores flying off the shelves in the wake of the COVID-19 panic. She wasn’t sure what they would do if they ran out of food. I shook my head and later told my husband that there’s always the local farms and farmers markets where you can find locally grown food.

“Um, yea. But you grew up in the country,” he rebutted. “She’s stuck in the suburbs and we’ve only lived in the suburbs. How’s she supposed to know what you do?”

I admit he had a good point. Honestly, more people in the US are like my sister-in-law and less like me. Being one part country kid and one part Anthony Bourdain acolyte, I’ve been obsessed most of my life with who made food and how I could get it in my mouth. 

Now that we can see quite easily how fragile our nationwide food system is, it is more important than ever to talk about ALL the different ways we can find food. 

The following information is to give you some guidelines, not hard rules, for expanding your food shopping to include locally grown food. 

Prep Yourself with a Grocery List

  1. Make a grocery list…this will help you from getting overwhelmed or forgetting something you need.
  2. Focus on non-processed foods (Like your doctor has probably been suggesting for some time now anyway. Okay, maybe it is just my doctor.)
  3. Don’t be afraid to add things like jams, salsas, honey, maple syrup, or even peanut butter!
  4. Don’t put pressure on yourself to ONLY buy local. Depending on where you live, some of your options may be limited. Maybe you just cannot find a local source of peanut butter for example, so get the peanut butter at Walmart. Maybe you’ll come across a local, farm-produced alternative later. If not, it is OK!

Okay, so now that we have an idea of what we want and need in our kitchen…

 

Let’s research!

For most folks, purposefully shopping local is a mental switch. We’ve been trained by one-stop-shops like Target and Walmart. I know I have. 

So how is this going to manifest? Well, that list you made? It is going to apply to multiple businesses instead of just one. Expect a business to have specialities in one thing rather than have everything. Assume, for example, that a cattle producer just has beef. Burgers and steak? Check. A veggie stand will not likely have fruits grown from trees like apples even if they are also selling something like strawberries. Cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries? Check. Apples? Better find an orchard. We’re dealing with vastly different kinds of cultivation and skills now.

Plus, we’re also dealing with seasonality. So don’t expect tomatoes in January from your local market unless you’re in the right climate for it. This affects produce in particular. It doesn’t affect farms that rely on some form of processing to sell their products though. They often have the logistics of storage to help you out at almost any time of year. A veggie farm might not have your carrots, but they may have canned salsa. A pig farmer is often harvesting at regular intervals throughout the year. He’s going to have bacon for you.

Where you can research

Google

I love some good ol’ google-fu sometimes. The trick, of course, is using the right words. Start with something simple. We want something local. So, put your town name and state first. And we want “farms”, so there’s the other search term. Simple. Google uses your IP address to handle the context of what “local” means.

We can also kick our search up a notch. Let’s say we add “cheese”. You may find Google suggesting “farmers cheese” though because that is a type of cheese (soft, fresh-tasting stuff, but not what we want).

Facebook

Pages

Go to your local farmer’s market Facebook Page or website and use it as a launch point to look up the farms that are vendors there. You begin looking for such pages by going onto Facebook, simply searching with the term “farmers market” and Facebook’s algorithm will often push your most local options up to the top.

Especially if you don’t have a local farmers market, use Facebook for Facebook Groups to find local farms (really!)

Groups

Especially in the wake of COVID-19 coming to the United States, farms began appealing to their online networks to try to handle massive logistical issues on their end. Check out last week’s article where we talk more about that for the meat industry. Facebook has become especially popular for farms to try to reach out to other farms and consumers.

In order to find these groups, they luckily all have similar names. Often it follows a template like “Shop [Name of State] Farms”. Sometimes groups will focus on specific regions like the upper peninsula of Michigan.

When you’re ready to buy

Especially since COVID-19 hit the United States, farmers there have upped their efforts like never before to help folks shop online. Using the methods above, I found a local vegetable source I use for my household’s veggies called Theodora Farms. 

 

Naturally, a small business is rarely going to act like Amazon so I cannot just order whenever. We’ve got to work together when it comes to shopping directly from farms. Personally speaking, it is a worthwhile experience.

So I have made my veggie shopping part of my weekend routine. I take my shopping list (remember that thing that I mentioned earlier?), swap all the veggie needs I can with what Theodora has, and they deliver right to me that week because I’m in their delivery area. 

Because they are run by an experienced, well-managed staff, I get regular delivery updates from them and a huge variety of veggies available to me that are in season.

Every delivery so far goes like this. Maybe it is time in quarantine talking, but it always feels like such an event! I hope you can have your own fun experiences as you check out your local farms!

 

 

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Farmfront On Air: The Who, What & Why

Farmfront On Air, Episode 1

 

Welcome to Farmfront On Air, a food and agriculture podcast, bringing you a diverse set of stories from those facing hardship in agriculture, moms and dads feeling food insecure due to COVID-19, innovators revitalizing the small town grocery store, Veterans and rural economic development.
We’ve been hearing and connecting with farmers and food consumers from many places affected by the pandemic and other tough economic situations. To make sure other people know about them, we decided the best way was to bring their voices straight to your ears with this agriculture podcast. In the coming weeks we’ll be talking to small town innovators, veterans rooting their new civilian life in farming, and food advocates who see major gaps in America’s food security.
Board members Elizabeth (Liz) Nyman and Jenny Schweigert begin drawing the roadmap to what promises to be an adventure in the world of agriculture podcasts. Our doors, DM’s & Inboxes are open and waiting for your stories.

 

 

 

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Revival of Home Meat Processing

Farmfront Board Member

Stevi Stewart

We have been watching the evolution of COVID’s effects on the food industry. It has been changing all “normal” activities we used to do, especially in the food industries. One aspect that seems to be getting a lot of attention is the shortage of meats in the supermarket.

Why were meat prices so inexpensive at the beginning of COVID-19?

Large processors that would have sold purely to now-closed restaurants and schools were facing an excess in supply. Those that cater to grocery stores were running short. Large processing facilities are set up to cater to specific types of products. change in packaging and processing was unlikely in a short time frame. There may even be cases where plants were continuing to process livestock. Still, they may not have had the ability to put it into what is called a tray pack form. That is what most consumers look for. What’s more, at the time of the shut-down, many restaurants were stocked with hundreds of thousands of dollars of meat. The solution was to move the product quickly through small butchers and grocery stores.

 

What is causing meat shortages now?

Let’s begin by describing the job atmosphere.  Workers at large processing facilities conduct their jobs in very close quarters. This is with good reason. It ensures quality products for customers. Preparing food, meat or even produce, requires the expertise of  hundreds working together.The inability to safely follow social distancing has become a balancing act of keeping employees protected, having consideration for the health of their families, all while still providing a safe product. The necessity to work in close proximity created a perfect breeding ground for COVID-19. And, COVID-19 didn’t hold back on taking up the opportunity to mingle. Therefore, companies such as meat processing plants, as well as logistical warehouses became hot spots for the virus. 

Amid that evolving storm, society was in an unprecedented place full of unknowns lurking at every corner. Panic is a natural reaction in such situations. Panic lead to  purchases of large quantities of food, specifically, meat and toilet paper.

What has presented itself as a food/meat shortage was ultimately a workforce shortage. 

According to Reuter’s, in late April daily pork production was down by as much as 45% with 20 plants closed due to the outbreaks. Production has since rebounded as plants began opening their doors in late May. However, production continues to lag. Major factors include the required quarantining of some employees and fear of contracting the virus. Mark Lauritsen, a vice president at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), noted a rate of 30-50% employee absentee during the week of June 7-14.

With all major meat processing facilities facing reduced or zero production,, many farmers were faced with the difficult task of getting rid of their livestock. Some were forced to euthanize due to the broken supply chain. Many others who were able to, took to social media to find anyone to purchase the animals. However, once livestock was sold  to others, the need for processing was still needed.  Smaller farmers and consumers found themselves reaching out to local meat lockers  in the hopes that they would process the meat and freezers would be filled. 

These processors set up appointments for the drop-off of animals in need of processing. Under normal circumstances, they would not have so much foot traffic and the general wait time for an appointment was around 3 months. In the new COVID-19 world,  numerous small processors have found themselves booked through mid-2021.

One positive thing that can be picked up from our time in quarantine is the newly proposed PRIME Act PRIME stands for Processing Revival and Intrastate Exemption Act. This would allow over 1000 small slaughterhouses to be able to sell to larger distributors. These include such as restaurants or cafeterias.It lifts previous restrictions. Don’t let this alarm you. These processors will still be under the same guidelines of potential USDA inspection at any time. However, this may be the next step we need to help us bridge the gap between large meat producers and the family processors. It may allow all gaps in the market to be filled.

 

Are there other options?

Remember to check out your local slaughterhouse, or farmers market options to also help support small farmers and family businesses. Who knows, maybe with a little bit of practice you may be setting up a butcher shop for your family in your own kitchen! 

 

Some great resources to get you started including The Bearded Butchers on YouTube. They explain in great detail how to process everything from cattle and sheep, to elk and deer. 

 

 

Another great resource is the Handcrafted series from Bon Appetit. While not as in depth as the Bearded Butchers this shows you great ways to break down large sections of your meats!

 

 

While we have found ourselves in a new realm, we must remain open minded and realize that the ways of the past may light a path for a solution to stocking your freezer.

 

 

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Growing Kids through Life in a COVID Food Insecure World

Farmfront Board Member

Jenny Schweigert

Stepping out of what we once considered normal has forced much of society to reflect on life. An entire article could be dedicated to all of the different aspects. In the back of my mind, I replay all of the instances of people stating we need to go back to the way food was produced 50 years ago. The countless ways our food and grocery supply chain has changed over the past three months is where today’s thoughts will be concentrated.

 

 

I often recount the day our schools closed and the state of Illinois was on lockdown. Rumors of toilet paper shortages were already overtaking the breaking news for nearly a week. Although immunosuppressed, I was skeptical about the true dangers of COVID. However, we had staples that needed purchasing so I headed to our nearest grocery store. There I was, standing in aisle 14 stunned and barely processing the sight of the empty toilet paper and paper towel shelving. An unexpected pang of panic hit me. Surely, this is a fluke and will be resolved in the next couple of days. Three months later, I’m still awaiting my toilet paper and paper towel orders from Amazon. 

 

Outside hunting for paper products, like many, including Farmfront board member Stevi Stewart, we began a garden. If not to feed ourselves, to share the wealth in what is becoming a food insecure world. No Kid Hungry recently released a new study that shows post-COVID, one in four children are food insecure. We hope that at a minimum, we’ll be able to offer our food pantry sweet corn to distribute.

 

 

Another benefit we hope to harvest from the garden are ways to keep our kids’ minds moving. According to All About Learning Press, preventing or in the spirit of 2020, reducing the normal “summer slide,” a decline in reading ability and other academic skills, can be as easy as enjoying a new hobby – such as gardening.

 

It’s not too late to begin a small garden or a project called “Adopt a Plant.”  We recommend a small space or using containers. Your local stores should still have plants such as tomatoes, peppers, or cabbage. Empowerment and engagement are the names of this game. Providing responsibility of the plant or plants initiates ownership in the project, not to mention the act of caring for a living organism. 

 

How do we keep kids engaged with the project? Set an expectation for your child(ren) of journaling on a daily basis. This can be done using paper and pen or computer. If your family tends to be artsy, the journal can be done purely through drawings/art or bullet journaling. It’s a nice way to get their creative juices flowing.

 

In a time where the appreciation of our food supply is unprecedented, we are all reeling from the perfect storm. Among crises, there is always opportunity. We have the drive to teach our children about a necessity of life, food production, while empowering them to be problem solvers. 

 

 

Our goal is to teach and provide you with helpful information around farming, food, fuel and fiber production. We also want to learn from you! Are there gardening or farm to school projects you’ve tried? Would you be willing to provide your experience? It’s often we learn more from you than what we can teach.

 

For farm to school resources, check these out that were compiled by Farmfront. 

 

 

 

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Bringing Farming Front and Center During Transitional Times

Farmfront Board Member

Jenny Schweigert

We know you’ve read our posts and been inquisitive about the new group in cyberland. The inquisitiveness is shared. We want to meet you, hear your stories, experiences and journeys. First, we’ll share the vision of Farmfront and how it relates to you. Farmfront exists to serve the public during transitioning times, through agriculture awareness. When it comes down to the bones of 2020, the words connecting us all are transition and agriculture. If you aren’t somehow in a transitional phase of your life, we’d love to know what planet you are reaching us from.

Farmfront began as a soul searching mission in Elizabeth Nyman’s life. Her family’s farm, established in the 1970’s, sits in a mixture of tillable ground and timber in Greene County, Illinois. The large question has been what is the future of this land.

The farm has served as a hub to bring people together. A place where her parents grow soybeans, corn with the quaintness of a pumpkin patch and orchard. As retirement sits on the horizon, determining the path of transition spurred a concept, eventually leading to the development of Farmfront.

“Farmfront has inspired me to use the resources available, such as our family farm, to encourage job creation in agriculture. As our board grew, we were able to hone the best ways to meet that goal,” said Elizabeth Nyman, “The combination of our board’s life experiences is sure to provide the public a unique platform of helpful information and more importantly, community. This is a transitional time and likely the most challenging any of us will see in our lifetime.”

With a 501 (c) 3 in place, Elizabeth enlisted the assistance of Meagan Bryant, Stephanie Stewart and Jenny Schweigert; all board members of Farmfront. Brainstorming and new connections became abundant. Agriculture has touched each of their lives, drawing diverse passions. Then, COVID-19 became prevalent, and our world changed. Collectively, those passions and COVID-19 circumstances have resulted in an effort to enrich lives currently experiencing transition and strengthen economic development through the conduit of agriculture.

Through sharing of content, the group intends to assist Veterans in need of work, transitional farmers and ranchers, and those outside of agriculture who have an interest in learning more – those in search of job opportunity or concerned with food security.

“I was drawn to Farmfront due to our shared passion for the military. Growing up in a military family followed by working for a military and first responder not-for-profit, I knew I could make a difference by lending my expertise and network of Veterans.” Meagan Bryant continued, “The natural connection to agriculture stems from being an active FFA member in high school and my love for horses.”

In an effort to place practically to an occupation that tends to be viewed through a romantic lens, Stephanie Stewart brings her experience as a farmer. “Agriculture is in my roots. Additionally, the opportunity of having a co-worker who is a Veteran has given me an appreciation for the value Veterans can offer agriculture,” stated Stephanie.

Bringing to the table a decade of agriculture cheerleading is Jenny Schweigert. “As my children have become more independent, I began searching for a place where I could give back to the community. I observed other moms react to the food insecurity due to COVID-19. At the same time, I was witnessing friends struggle to make ends meet thus considering gut-wrenching decisions to sell their farms. Farmfront is a platform where I know I can pay-it-forward while incorporating my passion for agriculture.” said Jenny.

The organization will be sharing information, stories and how-to’s on a wealth of subjects. You can expect stories from farmers currently going through the transition of selling their farm and determining next steps. Outdoorsy moms will find blog posts connecting them to modern agriculture and the food supply system. Bonus: Activities engaging their children in learning about food production. Veterans and others looking to develop new skills can expect information about trades, beginning farming, farmers searching for help on their farms and job search tips.

It is a time of transition and our mission is to help you make those transitions in the best ways possible. We would love to hear your stories and experiences, too. You can do so by visiting the Contact page and shooting us an introduction.

 

 

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No-Nonsense Guide to Food Labels (Beef)

Farmfront Board Member

Meagan Bryant

When you walk down the aisle inside of your favorite grocery store, it is easy to spot buzzwords that may grab your eye. With consumers’ rising interest in what is in their food, words that give more details stop and make you think. Organic, grass-fed, hormone or antibiotic free. What does it all mean and do these labels really fit the goals in your head? In the second installation of the no-nonsense guide to food labels we are going to dive into understanding the beef you buy.

Grain-Finished vs. Grass-Fed


What’s the difference between your cow being grain-finished or grass-fed? 

Grain-Finished

Grain-finished cows actually eat grass for the majority of their lives, they only spend 4-6 months at a feed yard eating a balanced diet of grains, local feed ingredients, like potato hulls, sugar beets, and hay or forage. These cows may or may not have been given antibiotics or growth hormones.

Grass Fed

Compared to grain-finished, grass fed cows eat grass or forage for their entire life. When they are at the feed yard for 4-6 months, they are given grass, forage, hay or silage only. These cows may or may not have been given antibiotics or growth hormones.
One thing to note is that cows have naturally occurring hormones, like all mammals. Cows that are given growth hormones or antibiotics have to go through a withdrawal period so that when the meat arrives at your plate those hormones or antibiotics are no longer present in the meat. So, either way those antibiotics or hormones will not be ingested by the consumer.

Organic vs. Naturally Raised


Naturally raised beef and organic beef are very similar. Both have much stricter rules including what supplements are given to the cows and what they are fed.

Organic

USDA Certified Organic beef can never receive any antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones. This beef may be either grain-or grass-finished, as long as the feed is 100% organically grown. These cows can spend time at a feed yard.
Any cow that becomes ill must be treated with antibiotics in order to get better, and therefore ensuring the animal is being treated humanely. If an organic animal becomes ill and is given antibiotics it will be sold to a non-organic farm.

Naturally Raised (sometimes called Never Ever)

The main difference between naturally raised cows and certified organic cows is naturally raised cows do not have to have 100% organically grown feed. Beef that is Naturally Raised is sometimes called Never Ever, as in never ever exposed to antibiotics or hormones.

Beef Raised without Antibiotics vs. Beef Raised without Hormones


If the beef you are buying is organic or naturally raised, you don’t have to worry about these labels because both organic and naturally raised cows cannot be given either antibiotics or growth hormones. Although, as noted above due to the withdrawal period, neither antibiotics or hormones will be in any meat when you eat it, so the decision is yours on whether or not you care about these labels!

USDA labels “beef raised without antibiotics” mean the cattle have never received antibiotics but may receive growth-promoting hormones and “beef raised without hormones” mean the cattle have never received growth promoting hormones but may receive antibiotics.

Certified Humane


Certified Humane labels are not handled by the USDA but a separate nonprofit certification organization. In order for food to have the certified humane label it must come from a farm where Humane Farm Animal Care’s precise, objective standards for the humane treatment of farm animals is implemented.

The Power is in YOUR HANDS! -er- WALLET!


When it comes down to it, I encourage you to research any labels you are unsure of the definition for, to make sure they mean what you think they are supposed to. If those labels don’t meet the standards in your head maybe you should re-evaluate your purchases. Remember consumer dollars drive the industry. If nothing else, always look for local means of food markets in your area, where you can approach the farmer and they can tell you about all their practices and why their products are worth it!

 
 

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Garden Diaries: Stephanie Stewart, Part 2

by Stephanie Stewart

 

 

Update!

Lots of progress has been made since my last entry here for Farmfront. Starting with expanding our gardening space! It seems my ambitions have outgrown my original amount of space. So with that and the seedlings quickly maturing, we doubled our overall tilled ground.

 

 

 

Tilling is hard, man.

I always thought that tilling looked easy. Grandma always made it look like no big deal. You just push the heavy turning dirt blades around. Not true at all. As can be seen, I do not think the large amount of red rock present in my soil is doing me any favors either.
After a few failed attempts at trying to get more chicken litter tilled into the new addition to the garden space, I declared that what I had done was as good as it was going to be. Time to move on. Now that I had my extra square footage, I could plant some of my seedling babies!

 

Seed babies! Moment

One little issue arose though. Since I transplanted my small seedlings from peat pods to a smaller plug tray, I had an assortment of squash and zucchini all mixed together.
While this will not be such a problem for myself, it makes it difficult for me to now get rid of the rest of my seedlings. I cannot distinguish between the two to give away. Just a beginner’s mistake!
The squash and zucchini proved to be the easiest as they proved to be easy to grow from seeds. Brussels sprouts were also not too bad, other than they were frail. I had accidentally lost a few along the way. My cucumbers seemed to be stuck at a point where I was hoping that getting them into real soil might do them good. For the life of me I can not get okra to grow in the plug trays, but planted a few anyway. With everything now in the ground, I am seeing slow, but consistent progress. I am even beginning to see some small heads of broccoli, and tomato blooms.
I continue to go through and hoe up the soil weekly around my older plants. I always want to get rid of any sprouting weeds and aerate any packed soil that is on the surface. We have had quite a bit of rain in Western Kentucky this spring, with even more cloudy days. I am hoping that with some more sunshine, my plants will really begin to take off. Maybe I will finally have some produce to share with friends.

Lessons I’m learning

My one largest failure so far is forgetting the fact that my strawberries exist. I have three hanging baskets of them off my deck railing. I can never remember to look at them daily. Unfortunately many of my berries have rotten spots on them when I do find them. Oh well! I guess the many birds I have hanging around will like the treats I leave them in the yard!

 

 

 

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The Graze: Aid for Farmers During Covid-19

The Graze COVID-19 aid for farmers

What’s a Graze?

With so many news stories, problems, and solutions coming about during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have collected some of the most important resources farmers and their allies can know about right now. No bull, just the meat.

Farmfront Board Director

Elizabeth Nyman

I can’t sell my livestock or produce for anything. What gives?

The difficulty dealing with COVID-19 is that we still are learning about it. We do know issues like the proximately required at meat processing facilities is an issue. But still the overall uncertainty has caused massive issues in our food supply system. Food producers (aka farmers) have become one of the most economically vulnerable parts that system. Information changes quickly right now so expect a dynamic year.

How exactly is that affecting where I live?

States differ in how they are treating their economies. Some are more restrictive than others. Generally, all food production is considered an essential service. Farms for food production should be considering their options for moving forward.

Why can’t I sell my livestock or vegetables to whoever is processing them?

Part of our food system’s fragility is in how plants process and inspect food. Food must be processed and inspected before it goes to consumers. The processes themselves such as for meat have high standards. It isn’t a health issue. The standards do make it difficult to transport meat across state lines. It can also be hard to find a facility with the right inspection infrastructure the USDA needs. This is a partial reason for why there are so few stakeholders in meat processing. It is hardly the only reason though. Meat is a prominent example.

Some farms can use this opportunity to pivot.

* None of these are affiliate links, nor does Farmfront have any endorsement relationship with them. We encourage farmers and farm businesses to connect with colleagues your area to see what they like.

Other farms have to batten down the hatches.

Is there anything long-term to come out of this?

Some bills are trying to make meat processing more agile under thePRIME act.

In the meantime, one of the most important things you can do as a business owner is take care of yourself.

Folks like Farm Aid are ready to give you fast and effective help. Mental health is health. Seeking help for your mental health is smart.

 

 

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