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Cate Hill Farm visit, Equinox Gathering 2019 Photo by Jay Ericson

Real People, Trusting Relationships

May 15, 2020
by Greg Georgaklis

Dear Farmers To You community,

We believe feedback is a gift. Why, you ask? Because when you give us feedback, it means you care. It means you trust us to listen and do better.

The good news is that Farmers To You, and this local food system that you support, can respond immediately to your feedback. We are a phone call, or farm visit, away from our partners, farmers, and producers.

So, I went directly to the source. This week, I called up our friends at Tilldale Farm, Misty Knoll Farms, as well as other farmer partners, and shared that customers are asking for more ground beef and chicken each week. We told them about our waiting list. We asked if they were willing, and able, to ramp up their production to meet our customer demand? They said, “yes!” They are willing to plant more, bake more, prepare, pack, and deliver more.

They also shared that in the case of meat, and beef specifically, this healthy, local food takes time to increase production. The amazing Tilleys at Tilldale Farm told us that whatever they do right now to increase their herd, they will see production increases in two years! So, in this instance, we talked to another local farmer, with comparable quality, and soon Farmers To You will have more beef.

This is not the case of a broken food system. It is the case of small-scale farmers responding to demand for healthy, safe, quality food.  

At the same time this week, it was impossible not to notice that in the news there are reports of meat shortages at grocery stores. The spread of COVID-19 in slaughterhouses and the meat producing and packing industry has taken a staggering toll on the industrial food system. Tragically, this is not the first time that we are hearing about the treacherous health, safety, and wages of the people behind the industrial food system. The pandemic is now forcing the industrial meat industry into an impossible choice: provide meat to grocery stores or close down to protect their employees from illness. The risk is immeasurable.

In our case, at Farmers To You, we are asking farmers to take a different risk. Today we are asking them to grow and raise more food for our customers. If our demand goes down, after the pandemic, these farmers have no place to sell their food. 

This is not an impossible choice. We believe in you, our families, and partners. We trust your commitment to investing in building a food system that is much healthier, healing, delicious, and resilient. 

I saw a recent remark from one of my favorite people, Alice Waters, the chef and founder of Chez Panisse and The Edible Schoolyard Project: “The present crisis is reminding us that food security depends on a local food system. When we grow food regeneratively and organically, we not only produce deeply nutritious food, we also mitigate climate change. What a hopeful and delicious vision for the future.”

This food system, that Alice describes, is built on your participation. A safe, healthy food system where food is grown by people we know, close to home. A food system we can rely on no matter what the world throws at us. Thank you for being part of this future. Thank you for your gift.

With immense gratitude,

Greg