In order to help consumers and local farmers connect during the coronavirus outbreak in Pennsylvania, Chatham University’s Center for Regional Agriculture, Food and Transformation (CRAFT) has created the Pennsylvania Farm Product Directory.
The directory, hosted through a public Google Sheet and virtual map, is designed to inform consumers how to purchase products from local purveyors. Each listing includes information on the farm’s location and business hours, along with a bill of products, directions for checkout, safety practices, delivery radius, SNAP acceptance, and more.
“As farms adapt to who they want to sell to and how they want to sell, we want this resource to document that," says CRAFT program director Cassandra Malis.
Farming is one of the many industries suffering from shutdowns connected to COVID-19. Malis notes that many local farms lost significant revenue due to restaurant closures and downsizing.
“We’ve heard a lot about farmers losing sales and being unsure, since it’s at the beginning of the season, of what to plant or how much to plant or if to plant at all, which is scary to us,” says Malis.
With concerns like this in mind, Malis added a second section of the directory just for farmers, to create a network to help each other. The section asks questions about hiring, bulk product share, and emergency needs.
Most farmers, however, have moved forward with planting. Farmers markets are committed to open for the season — some even earlier this year — which has given many purveyors a boost of confidence.
Any farmer can apply to be listed in this resource through an online form located in the directory. In addition to submissions, the CRAFT team is running an outreach program, contacting farmers to get them listed. For now, they are concentrated on farms in western Pennsylvania, though they plan to move east as the pandemic continues. The directory, just three weeks old, now has 62 listings and is continuing to grow.
“Farmers are, if anything, very used to being creative and diversifying income, and doing all these things to make their livelihood an actual livelihood,” Malis says. “They are a resilient group of people.”
Explore the directory here.