At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery store shoppers throughout the U.S. saw bare shelves for the first time. They also had the misfortune of witnessing disruptions in agriculture, which affected supply chains nationwide. The problem at distribution centers and with outbreaks at meat processing plants, grocery stores suffered considerably. This may be the first time that many in Colorado saw first-hand what food insecurity felt like.
Some didn't suffer as much as those who depend on local grocers. These are the people who purchased food from Colorado ranches and farms, where they bought honey, grains, meats, eggs, dairy, flowers, and more items.
Having community-scale growers allows the farmers and ranchers to get to know the consumers who shop with them. They meet them and start to develop trust through their support. However, these local Colorado growers have a price to pay. They do not receive the same level of cost efficiencies that large manufacturing plants offer.
Since farmers grow such a diverse variety of items, it calls for a different way of meeting the needs of those whom they sell to. The land has to be worked by people. Local growers place put the environment and humans, over profit.
The sacrifices include such things as leaving areas on the edge of their fields for pollinator habitat and also to encourage ecosystem health. This gives them less harvest volume. They have fewer pasture-raised animals, but the animals have more room for roaming. With less production volume and fewer animals, this doesn’t offer them as many distribution choices and even fewer customers.
This is why farmers markets are so critical at such a time. They act as a bridge between the community and local growers. The markets are a great way of seeing just how direct access to food can benefit everyone in the community, made up of local ranchers, farmers, community, and food artisans. All share the same level of integrity and enthusiasm.
During the current pandemic, the farmer's markets, like every other industry, has suffered. Since many of the food stalls are close to each other, the configuration of the markets has to be rearranged and social distancing protocol has to be put into place before the markets can completely rebound.
In a recent survey, 74 percent of farmers' markets have earned less due to the pandemic with 93 percent reporting higher costs. This is a very toxic situation. It is predicted that many farmers’ markets will go out of business this year. If the survey and recent predictions are true then Colorado will not be spared.
Area growers will lose thousands of customers and support. Some farms will sell direct, however, they will lose revenue in the process of pivoting from selling to local markets. Farmers will have to create other types of income-generating ideas to survive. If this occurs then those who frequent the markets will have to rely on an anonymous food system, with no access to high-quality nutritious food items.