Food system resilience during COVID-19
The role of local producers in rural Canada
Keywords:COVID-19, local food system, Nova Scotia, producer, food system resilience, social-ecological, adaptability
Over the last 70 years, Canadian agriculture has shifted from many small farms that supplied local residents, to fewer large farms designed to maximize production, reduce cost, and target international markets. At present, small local food chains exist as a small fraction of the Canadian food system. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of local producers was valued by Canadians. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the role that local producers played in maintaining food system resilience during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were particularly interested in identifying adaptation strategies and factors that contributed to (enabled) or worked against (constrained) increasing local food system resilience (i.e. the perseverance of farms and farm production). We also examined the accessibility and sufficiency of current agriculture supports. Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with Antigonish Farmers’ Market (AFM) producers. Challenges identified include system bottlenecks, increased costs, increased demand, changes in sales, and the need for online literacy. In response to these challenges, AFM producers demonstrated a high degree of adaptability. Half of the study participants accessed agriculture-support related to COVID-19. Other participants expressed discontent with the suitability and accessibility of current support programs available. Opportunities to increase local food system resilience include increasing local support, promoting AFM collaboration, and tailoring agriculture support for small, diversified, local farmers.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Kelli Weinkauf, Tracy Everitt
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