The coronavirus outbreak is sending shockwaves through people’s lives. While some are fortunate enough to stay safe at home, many others are torn between the conflicting demands of economic necessity and personal health. Still others have become unemployed. In many places, small and local businesses have borne the brunt of the impact. And of course, as the world’s health systems have become overwhelmed, many loved ones have been lost.
Meanwhile, our social lives have largely moved online – a poor substitute for the real thing. In times of turmoil, what we most long for are handshakes and hugs, not video chats.
As we each navigate this new reality, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Core features of the global economy — from habitat destruction to factory farming to hyper-urbanization — have heightened the risk of outbreaks like COVID-19. And economic globalization, long touted as an unstoppable force, is now revealed to be highly fragile: long supply chains that stretch halfway across the world do not hold up well to this kind of strain. There is already talk of abandoned crop fields and serious labor shortages.
To chart a path forward and to ensure that we are prepared to weather future shocks in an age of climate chaos, we need to think carefully about our social and economic systems. We need to recognize that the real economy is the living earth, and begin sowing the seeds of more ecological economies that treat people like members of a community, not numbers on a page. In short, we need to localize like we’ve never localized before.
That means providing support to small businesses and community groups that are currently under so much stress. Since food is at the center of the entire economy, let’s begin by making sure that small, local farms remain lifelines in this time of need. Even when the current crisis is behind us, we’ll benefit from stronger local food economies – from being linked to diversified farms that provide healthy, nutrient-dense foods without poisoning the environment, eliminating jobs, or erasing biodiversity.
We’ve created a list of resources here on this page, outlining some actions you can take to support local farmers both at the grassroots and at a policy level during this time of crisis. We’ve also compiled some examples of community solidarity being put into action during the pandemic. If you know of other good local food resources or community solidarity initiatives from anywhere in the world, we would love to hear from you. You can email us at [email protected] or send us a message on our Facebook page.
Below these lists, you can also find links to some excellent webinars, online courses, and articles covering COVID-19 from a big-picture perspective.
Finally, we hope you’ll join our international community of localists, the IAL, join our email list, and watch our events page for upcoming online talks and workshops. We look forward to connecting with you!
Resources to Support Small Farmers and Local Food Systems during COVID-19
- La Via Campesina: #StayHomeButNotSilent– In times of pandemic, peasants are united to feed the people
- COVID-19 and the Crisis in Food Systems: Symptoms, Causes, and Potential Solutions: Communiqué by International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems
- Open Food Network:
- Staying Connected and Supporting Our Fibershed Amid Coronavirus
- What Can Consumers Do During the COVID-19 Crisis to Support Family Farms & Our Local Food System?
- Selling Direct &Online During the COVID-19 Crisis (Community Alliance with Family Farms)
- Supporting Alternative Sales Options for Direct to Market Farmers
- Cooperative Gardens Commission – How to Increase Food Production in Your Community
- COVID-19 and the Slow Food Community
- Slow Food Live Online Food Sessions
- Slow Food Mutual Aid Database
- Food Industry Coronavirus Collaboration Resources
- Food Policy Network: Food Policy Council Map
- Resource Guide for Institutional Food Systems and COVID-19 (Northeast US)
- COVID-19 Stimulus Package for the Food System
- National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Statement on COVID-19 and its Impacts on the Farm and Food System
- Mitigating Immediate Harmful Impacts of COVID-19 on Farms and Ranches Selling through Local and Regional Food Markets
- A Closer Look at Farmer Relief in Senate Pandemic Aid Package
- URGENT – Ensure COVID-19 Aid Gets to Farmers and Food Systems Today!
- As Coronavirus Ravages Businesses, Small Farms and Independent Restaurants Rally for Economic Relief
- Food Workers are on the Frontlines of Coronavirus. They Need Our Support.
- Community Supported Agriculture: Find a Local CSA
- CSA COVID Response/Resources by Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) and CSA Innovation Network
Support Local Businesses:
- Institute for Local Self-Reliance: https://ilsr.org/covid-19-how-you-can-help-save-our-locally-owned-businesses/
- Farmers Markets Respond to COVID-19 — Best Practices, Examples, and Resources (Farmers Market Coalition)
- Farmers Markets Respond to COVID-19 — Daily Updates and Announcements
- The Fight to Keep Farmers’ Markets Open During Coronavirus
- ‘Farmers Markets Rally to Create Virtual Hubs for Hard-Hit Local Growers. Here’s a Roundup’ (Chicago)
- Curbside Farmers Market Pickup and Local Food Home Delivery (San Francisco)
- Seattle Farmers Market – Food delivery and pickup (Seattle)
- Onchenda Open Global Food Cooperative (Utah)
- National Young Farmers Coalition Statement on COVID-19 and its impacts on young farmers
- National Young Farmers Coalition COVID-19 Resources Library
- Six Ways You Can Support Farmers during Covid-19
- Defending and Securing our Food Supply (Helping: Smaller Farmers and Food Growers, Smaller Fishers, Food Markets, Bakeries, and Communities Growing food)https://www.sustainweb.org/coronavirus/securing_our_food_supply/
- Five ways to support our farmers in the time of COVID-19
- Coronavirus Food Alert: Sustain: The Alliance for Better Food and Farming
- COVID Mutual Support Produce Directory – Organic Growers Alliance, Landworkers Alliance and Community Supported Agriculture
- How to support local food and drink businesses during the Coronavirus crisis
- Harvest Workers’ Co-op
- Landworkers’ Alliance Coronavirus Support Page
- Bristol Food Union
- Landworkers’ Alliance calls for measures to increase UK food resilience in light of Coronavirus outbreak
- Landworkers’ Alliance calls for emergency “Land Army” package to protect our Local Food Supply
- COVID-19 Resources for CSAs
- Find a CSA
- London Farmers Markets
- How can we help our fishing fleet through coronavirus? https://www.sustainweb.org/blogs/mar20_fishing_coronavirus/
- Real Bread Campaign – Map
- COVID-19: Latest Information and Updates, by European Coordination Via Campesina
- ECOLISE: Community responses to COVID-19
- Australian Farmers Market Association Directory
- Harvest Market Online (Tasmania)
- Carriageworks Farmers Market Online Directory (Sydney area)
- Barossa Farmers Market (South Australia)
- Local Food Connect (Melbourne)
- Vikalp Sangam: In response to Corona Times
- Corona Emergency – Organic Food Sales
- COVID Support – Help Farmers Feed the Hungry
- Gurgaon Organic Farmers Market Online
Coatl Mercado Bioregional
La Cosecha Oaxaca
Mercado el 100 (Mexico City):
Mercado de las Cosas Verdes ‘Tianquiskilitl’
Red de Economías Populares y Autogestivas del Sur – Chiapas
Tianguis Agroecológico y Artesanal ‘Comida Sana y Cercana’
Tianguis Alternativo de Puebla:
COVID-19 Community Solidarity Examples
On Bali, the collapse of the tourist economy has led many people to turn to return to villages and develop livelihoods in the food economy, which is inherently more stable. Collective farms are emerging, and, as one farmer puts it ‘even though the tourism sector has collapsed, Balinese are not going to starve’. Read more: here.
In Mexico City, the disruption of global supply chains has served to bolster local indigenous farmers, who are bringing back the ancient Aztec tradition of growing food in chinampas, or “floating gardens”. These farmers are protecting cultural heritage, enhancing ecosystems and providing fresh, local food to residents. Now, they are seeing sales increase by 100 to 120 percent. Read more here.
In the Navajo nation, farmer Tyrone Thompson is helping people return to their agricultural roots by teaching and encouraging them to farm. According to one researcher; ‘There has been a surge in interest. Seeds were hard to come by. They flew off the shelves just as fast as toilet paper did’. Read more here.
World Central Kitchen is repurposing chef Jose Andres’ restaurant kitchens as soup kitchens, and building a movement to support other restaurants across the USA in doing the same. Check out their country-wide map of free meals from governments, nonprofits, and restaurants. One of Andres’ restaurants, Beefsteak Veggies, is also packaging up wholesale produce and staple goods for retail sale, in an effort to preserve supply chains with local farmers, and to alleviate crowding and shortages in larger grocery stores.
Food bank Feeding Northeast Florida has built a creative local food ecosystem by purchasing food from nearby farms whose restaurant contracts have dried up, hiring local unemployed food service workers, and cooking meals in the now-empty kitchens of insurance company Florida Blue’s campus cafeteria – read the story here.
The city council of Victoria, British Columbia has expanded its urban food production program by temporarily reassigning some parks department staff to grow 50,000 to 75,000 seedlings to give to residents in May and June.
The Chicago Farmer’s Market Collective is helping its vendors develop pickup, delivery, and CSA options for customers who are unable to go to the markets in person.
In an article titled “Farmers are among the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic”, a melon farmer in a village near Chennai, India reports that due to the lockdowns, he is now able to sell all of his produce directly to his neighbors, rather than to a chain of middlemen.
In the city of Cagayan de Oro, in the Philippines, activist group The Greenthumbers has successfully advocated with the local Archbishop to ask both clergy and worshippers to set up and communal gardens, and to call on those who have land to open their lots for planting vegetables and native alternatives to rice.
In Rome, Italy, a cooperative formed by formerly-exploited African migrants is working tirelessly to fill the increased demand for deliveries of fresh produce and yogurt for people on lockdown. The Guardian shares their story.
Volunteers with Feedback Global, which organizes gleaning groups across England, are recovering unpicked vegetables from fields around Kent, gathering unused food from closed cafes, restaurants, and wholesalers, and cooking it into meals for the community.
Hundreds of Mutual Aid Networks across the world are mobilizing volunteers to deliver essential items to and regularly check in on the elderly and others at high risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
- Covid-19 Mutual Aid (UK)
- Mutual Aid USA
- Mutual Aid Hub
- COVID-19 Mutual Aid Directory (USA)
- Mutual Aid Offers and Goods – Common Good (USA)
- Viral Kindness (Australia)
MN CovidSitters, started by a medical student in Minnesota, USA, has paired more than 350 student volunteers with healthcare workers to help them with childcare, grocery shopping, and whatever else they and their families need – and is inspiring other medical schools to do the same.
IDEP Foundation is helping families in Bali, Indonesia who were reliant on income from tourism by distributing buckets with a month’s supply of cleaning and hygiene products, staple foods, organic vegetable seeds, and educational materials about COVID-19.
People in cities all over the USA have started virtual tip jars – simple spreadsheets with names and electronic payment options – to help laid-off restaurant staff.
The New Economy Coalition has put together a list of COVID-19 emergency funding sources to help workers across sectors whose livelihoods have been destabilized by the economic changes.
In Washington, DC, the Adams Morgan Business Improvement District has started a #restaurantbonds campaign to encourage people to invest their money in local businesses via gift cards rather than in corporate stocks and bonds.
Members of the Barcelona Street Vendors’ Union in Spain, no longer able to work due to stay-at-home restrictions, have joined forces with a local clothing company to sew masks for healthcare workers. Proceeds from the masks go to a food bank serving – and highlighting the presence of – the often-invisible African migrant communities that comprise a majority of the union.
The new international network Open Source Medical Supplies publicizes designs of safe personal protective equipment (PPE) that can be manufactured by local communities. Within two weeks of its inception, 95+ local chapters, from Ireland to Indonesia, were at work sourcing open-source designs for PPE and medical devices, translating documents, and working out the logistics of manufacturing supplies locally.
In University Heights, Ohio, residents created a daily Time Out Together event, where they all go outside (maintaining a safe distance) at 6:30pm each day to say hello and feel a sense of togetherness.
In solidarity with their 80-year-old neighbor, a community in Madrid left a cake on her porch and sang “Happy Birthday” to her in unison from their windows. Watch the heartwarming video here.
Webinars and Online Courses
Webinars and Webinar Series:
- Ongoing: Live Webinars with Helena Norberg-Hodge, Founder of Local Futures:
- Ongoing: Dialogue on Alternatives in the Time of Global Crises:
- Ongoing: Transnational Institute Weekly Series of Webinars in Response to the Covid-19 Crisis:
- Ongoing: Vikalp Vārtā: Online Dialogue Series on Alternatives for India during the Covid Times and Beyond:
- Ongoing: #NoBackToNormal – Degrowth talks organized by the UK Degrowth Summer School: https://www.ukdegrowthsummerschool.org/
- Ongoing: Schumacher College: Earth Talks – The Joy of Six: https://www.dartington.org/whats-on/earth-talks/
- Ongoing: Prescott College “Food Systems Friday” Webinar Series
Recordings of Previous Webinars:
- May 23rd: Vandana Shiva & David Suzuki: The Virus is a Wake-up Call
- May 22nd: Avi Lewis, Lucía Bárcena, Alberto Arroyo, Arthur Stamoulis: Green New Deal(s) the World Needs Now
- Ashish Kothari: Food Sovereignty, Social Justice & Ecological Sustainability: ‘Eco-swaraj’ – India 2020
- Multiple: Transnational Institute Weekly Series of Webinars in Response to the Covid-19 Crisis:
- April 11th: Community Gathering with Charles Eisenstein and Bayo Akomolafe:
- March 27th: How to Beat Coronavirus Capitalism
- March 18th: Open Food Network: Slides, Recordings and Notes: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1P9c71B5450nJlcsPJ1yT1jJH4gfHnwvt
- March 13th: How Global Agriculture Grew a Pandemic
Top Reading Picks on Coronavirus and Transformative Possibilities
- Ashish Kothari, ‘Can the coronavirus save the planet? The corona crisis signifies a civilization that is dying. But it also shows a ‘pluriverse’ of other worlds rising up.’
- Ashish Kothari, ‘We Will Survive the Coronavirus. We Need to Make Sure We Survive Ourselves.‘
- Brian Davey, ‘Degrowth, Coronavirus and Self Isolation’
- Charles Eisenstein, ‘The Coronation‘
- Chris Smaje, ‘For whom the bell tolls: a Small Farm Future COVID-19 special’
- Colin Tudge, ‘What happens after Covid-19?’
- David Korten, ‘Why Coronavirus Is Humanity’s Wake-Up Call’
- Degrowth.info editorial team, ‘A degrowth perspective on the coronavirus crisis’
- Devinder Sharma, ‘Make no mistake: Agriculture alone has the potential to reboot the economy’
- European Coordination Via Campesina, ‘Here and ready: the value of peasant agriculture in the context of COVID-19’
- GRAIN, ‘Agro-imperialism in the time of Covid-19′
- GRAIN, ‘Origin of COVID-19: Industrial Livestock?‘
- Interface, ‘Organising Amidst COVID-19: Sharing Stories of Struggles‘
- Jedediah Britton-Purdy, ‘The Only Treatment for Coronavirus Is Solidarity’
- Jennifer Clapp, ‘Spoiled Milk, Rotten Vegetables and a Very Broken Food System‘
- Judith D. Schwartz, ‘The Deeper Source of Grocery Panic‘
- Katie Brimm: ‘The Moment for Food Sovereignty is Now‘
- Landworkers Alliance: ‘Why Now, More than Ever, We Need a Food System based on Food Sovereignty‘
- La Via Campesina, ‘#StayHomeButNotSilent – In times of pandemic, peasants are united to feed the people!’
- Lindley Mease, ‘Coronavirus pandemic shows we need new ways to look after the Earth and each other’
- Marianne Brooker, ‘The birth of Covid-19 mutual aid’
- Marissa Mommaerts, ‘Call to Action for the US Transition Movement’
- Matt Mellen, ‘5 ways coronavirus could help humanity survive the ecological crisis’
- Max Haiven, ‘No return to normal: for a post-pandemic liberation’
- Michael Pollan, ‘The Sickness in Our Food Supply‘
- Michael Shuman, ‘A Dozen Asks for Your Governor‘
- Michael Shuman, ‘Comparative Resilience: 8 Principles for Post-COVID Reconstruction‘
- Patrick Holden, ‘The coronavirus pandemic and future food security’
- Randall Amster, ‘Solidarity in a Time of Social Distancing’
- Robert Hardman, ‘The little shops that really are Britain’s cornerstone: Our defiant smaller stores still have all we need – and a human touch to help us through the crisis’
- Vandana Shiva, ‘A virus, humanity, and the earth‘
- Walden Bello, ‘Coronavirus and the Death of ‘Connectivity’
- Wayne Roberts, ‘Four ways COVID-19 will change food systems and food security’
- Whitney Curry Whimbish, ‘Stepping Up: As government leaders bungle the coronavirus response, there’s hope in mutual aid’
Further Resources from Local Futures
We’ve made our film The Economics of Happiness free to watch in partnership with our friends at Films for Action. We have also added an E-book version of our bestselling classic Ancient Futures to our online store. For a free downloadable resource covering the basics of localization and how it could be realized, check out our booklet Localization: Essential Steps to an Economics of Happiness. We also have several free resources available in other languages.