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Farmers are changing ways to get food to customers, using drop-off sites and grocery stores

April 6, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The coronavirus has limited some of the traditional ways for farmers to get their food to consumers. But some farmers are finding innovative methods to keep the population fed.

"We're just trying to make it easy for our customers," said farmer Sam Wiseman, left, owner of Sunflower Savannah Farm in Beaufort who delivers an order of fresh eggs and salsa to Cindy Finney of Glendale on Sunday, March 29, 2020, in the Hixson Middle School parking lot in Webster Groves.

With much of the country staying home for fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus, farmers have had to think on their feet to get food to hungry customers. “Our world has turned completely upside down,” said Steve Landers, owner of Covered-L Farm in Boone County, Missouri. Covered-L is a grass-fed beef farm that, until the virus took hold of the country, did most of its business by selling meat to small restaurants in Columbia, Missouri.

"We're just trying to make it easy for our customers," said farmer Sam Wiseman, left, owner of Sunflower Savannah Farm in Beaufort who delivers an order of fresh eggs and salsa to Alicia Vega of Brentwood on Sunday, March 29, 2020, in the Hixson Middle School parking lot in Webster Groves.

She has had drop-offs of her chicken and duck eggs and tomatillo salsa at Hixson Middle School in Webster Groves for each of the past few Sundays. Sunflower Savannah is an all-natural, non-GMO specialty-crop farm — “We do some heirloom vegetables, weird stuff that a lot of people don’t grow,” Wiseman said.

She is counting on the scarcity of the crops she grows and the appeal of the natural growing methods to bring more customers to the drop-offs as more produce comes into season. “We’re just trying to make it easy for people to get fresh, clean food and not worry about what is in the grocery store for fresh everyday meals,” she said. Good Life Growing, an urban farm in St. Louis, has, like Covered-L Farm, seen a complete turnaround in its business model from almost exclusively selling to restaurants to almost exclusively selling through grocery stores. The difference is that Good Life Growing runs its own grocery store, Old North Provisions in north city.

We want to be here for people who don’t have that flexibility to go out of the community for shopping, and I think our members understand that,” Essman said. Keeping track of what many of the region’s farmers, independent grocery stores and farmers markets are doing to get food to consumers is Known & Grown STL, a project of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment on behalf of the St Louis Food Policy Coalition. This project promotes “farmers who are using environmentally responsible practices within 150 miles of St. Louis,” according to manager Jenn DeRose.

It has created a spreadsheet at knownandgrownstl. org that lists dozens of farms, farmers markets and natural-food grocery stores and shows how they are getting their food to consumers, whether through deliveries, drop-off, pick-ups or other means. “People are rallying around local producers and growers,” DeRose said.

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