How To Support Local Farmers & Local Businesses During Social Distancing

Insteading is based here in Seattle, one of the earliest outbreak areas for COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and social distancing efforts. As the city has quickly retreated into our homes over the past few weeks, many local businesses have been hit hard, closing their doors temporarily or even permanently in some cases.

These changes are happening across the US and other countries, and in addition to businesses like restaurants and gyms, we’re seeing public event cancellations like our local Farmers Markets.

Unfortunately, that means lots of local farmers are losing access to their primary customer base for the upcoming weeks or months.

A closure update from our local market here in West Seattle.

This is going to be hard on everybody, but given the nature of our community here at Insteading, I wanted to take a minute and highlight a few ways we can all help local growers and other businesses.

First: Try & Purchase From Home

Assuming your family is making the responsible choice to hunker down at home and practice social distancing, the first step is to take a look at your local farmer’s market website or Facebook page and see if there’s a good way to connect directly with the vendors you would have purchased from in person.

The West Seattle Market group from the screenshot above has been doing a great job of sharing updates along these lines. The example post below (original URL at https://www.facebook.com/WestSeattleFarmersMarket/posts/10158211280781473) has photos describing what the vendors have to offer, how to get in touch with them, and what delivery or pickup options look like. If you run a similar market or event, this is a great way to help your vendors:

Backup: Try Larger Sites That Still Support Local Growers

If you can’t spend money directly with local growers, try finding other services that will turn around and buy directly from local farms, particularly if they’re experiencing high demand:

  • Delivery or Pickup services from your local food Co-op
  • Larger CSAs like Full Circle
  • Non-Produce deliveries like Smith Brothers in the Seattle area
  • National delivery services like Crowd Cow

Other Ways You Can Show Your Support

Here are some more ways that you can show your support for local farmers and other small business owners in your area that have been affected by COVID-19:

  • If you live in the Portland area, MilkRun is a grocery delivery service that allows you to purchase pantry staples from a variety of different local producers.
  • If you’re able, order take-out from farm-to-table restaurants. Here is a list of farm-to-table restaurants all over the U.S.
  • If you want to support local Seattle area farmers, considering donating to the Good Farmer Fund, which provides grants to farms in need.
  • Keep up to date on how you can help local farmers by signing up for their email newsletter.
  • If you’re in the Seattle area, check out this document that has a list of a variety of local vendors and how you can order pickup or delivery from them.

If you have ideas on what else we can add here, please drop a comment below!

Things You Can Do If You’re A Local Farmer Or Business

If you yourself sell produce and other product to local buyers, you’re probably feeling the slow down already. Here are a few suggestions on ways that you can keep some income coming in the door:

πŸ‘‰ Make It Easy For Customers To Buy From You

If you just put a note on a website or social media that says you’re available for orders, it puts a lot of work on your buyers to try and support you by figuring out what you sell and how much, etc.

You don’t need to launch a full eCommerce website, setting up something like a Paypal checkout button is just fine, but take the following steps to make it easier to buy from you:

1 – List the Exact Product or Items That Customers Can Buy

If you sell produce and vegetables, for example, give people something easy to commit to, like a box of vegetables and examples of what would be in there, and a price.

People will want to buy with you the same way they would with larger CSA operations like these types of boxes from Full Circle:

CSA Box Item Descriptions example from FullCircle.com

2 – Offer Delivery or Community Pick Up Locations

Everybody is trying to shelter in their homes. If you’re able to build a process for deliveries, even if that means driving them around yourself, you’ll probably get better results.

We’ve also seen lots of local vendors that are setting up community drop off locations, which is another common CSA delivery method.

3 – Offer Gift Cards or Prepayments

Not everybody can keep selling their products right now. Our local barbershop is completely closed, for instance.

If that’s the case, please give people a way to prepay for services they plan to use with you during the rest of 2020 anyways.

I will happily prepay for my haircuts for the rest of the year if it means that a business keeps its doors open.

Looking For Fellow Insteading Community Members You Can Support?

Hidden River Farms

One of our writers here at Insteading, Lucia Wyss, is part of the Hidden River Farm team. They’re offering sustainably-raised pork products from their farm here in Washington via the Crowd Cow website:

You can find their Crowd Cow page here, where they’re currently offering heritage pork loin and sweet Italian sausage.


Got a relevant offer to share with the community? Please leave a comment below with a website or URL where people can find more information.

Written by Kane Jamison

Kane is the founder of Insteading. He lives on his own urban homestead with his family in West Seattle.

One Comment

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  1. I wish there were more articles like this, Kane. With all the panic and media hype on the virus, I think that the real threat–small businesses going under and an economic downward spiral–is being eclipsed by people stockpiling toilet paper and focusing on whether or not their neighbor coughed at them. It doesn’t matter if you think that the virus is a real threat or a real hoax, the real affects of the panic are going to be first felt by the small farmer or the small business owner. I hope people go the extra mile and contact their local farmers to keep them afloat!

    Maybe a weirdly positive side-effect from this ridiculous year will be that more people will actually care about where their food comes from…and find it locally!

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