Supporting our Vermont Food System post-Irene

Vermont farms have suffered devastating losses due to flood waters from Hurricane Irene; losses to vegetable farms alone are currently reported at $1.5 million (source: NOFA). Sadly, any fruits or vegetables that have been inundated by flood waters are considered contaminated and can’t be sold (according to the FDA).

Many farmers spent the weekend before the storm harvesting everything they could, but it’s peak harvest season and all those tomatoes, squash, greens and other vegetables still in the fields are lost for the year. Add the cost of damaged or destroyed equipment and labor costs for clean up, and you’ve got a lot of farmers looking at a dire balance sheet.

What can I do to support my local food system in this time of need?

Purchase directly from farmers and producers at your local farmers market or farmstand. Producers receive a higher percentage of sales at farmers markets than through wholesale accounts, so more of your dollar goes straight to the farm. While you’re there, offer your support and ask what you can do to help.

Donate to an assistance fund, like NOFA’s Farmer Emergency Fund or the Vermont Farm Fund established by the Center for an Agricultural Economy.

Advocate at the local, state, and national level for regulations and funding to support a robust local food system. The more that there is small-scale food production in every town and neighborhood, the less vulnerable we are to floods and other natural disasters.

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment below with other suggestions for supporting farmers and food producers at this time…

Don’t live in Vermont? A robust food system in every state, town, and neighborhood is vital to the long-term security of every community. Use this map from Local Harvest to find farmers markets and family farms in your area.