Shopping 6 feet away from each other, wearing masks while out in public, and sanitizing everything has become the new normal these days. When looking to feed our families, options are sometimes limited. Farmer’s markets have been closed for several months now, and grocery stores try to keep up with stocking shelves. All the while, Ontario producers of your fruit, veggies, meats, and eggs have risen to the occasion. Wholesalers are calling farm owners like Gerdon Broekstra, a Norfolk County potato farmer, in the wee hours of the morning to make sure enough produce is going to be delivered.
Current restrictions on migrant workers have been challenging for all farmers, but nevertheless, many are making the best of the situation. Some Haldimand/Norfolk area farmers have created websites for online ordering- with scheduled, no-contact delivery. Some are offering local pick-ups and others, like McCutcheon Farms in Haldimand, are filling our social media feeds with informational content regularly, staying connected to their customers.
While we adjust to our new normal, part of moving forward is finding ways of supporting our local coverall-wearing heroes. It’s not just a trend, there are plenty of benefits to eating locally. Local food is fresher and, in our opinion, simply tastes better! Food from Ontario farms produces less waste, has less of a carbon footprint and helps support our local economy. Eating local encourages each of us to connect more with the food we are consuming and the farmers that devote their lives to provide it to us.
We are proud of the farms and families behind our food. Joe Koteles of Koteles Farms, Tillsonburg, is still waiting on over a dozen migrant workers to arrive. He says that these times are stressful, but he’s vigilant in keeping everyone healthy while running the business. Their asparagus farm is now open for curbside pickup! Caroll Collins in Puslinch has gone as far as providing two sets of PPE for each worker and installing plexiglass dividers everywhere she can- including the machinery. It’s often said that “Farmers feed cities”- U can help support our farmers by recognizing the opportunities this pandemic has presented:
- Make buying meat from local butcher shops a habit.
- Take advantage of local farm delivery and pick-up services whenever you can.
- Sign up for produce farm-shares.
- If you’re in the grocery store – choose Ontario produce whenever possible and look for the Canadian Milk symbol on dairy products.
- Recognize that we’re all in this together and each small act adds up to help strengthen our community. U can make a difference!
Written by Jess Lymburner