BY HENRY BROCKMAN
We are in completely uncharted waters as this novel coronavirus sweeps across the globe sickening millions and killing thousands. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warns that this pandemic has disrupted agriculture and food systems around the world. Grocery stores have empty shelves. Shopping for groceries can pose health risks. The future is uncertain.
But here in Central Illinois we have a trusted and reliable source of highly nutritious produce – local, organic vegetable farmers.
We are a cohort dedicated to growing nutritious food that tastes good, has the highest nutritional value, and is affordable. There are more than a dozen of us in the Peoria area. To see names and locations, go to:
For more than 25 years, I have been growing over 650 varieties of vegetables on fertile Mackinaw River Valley land. I sell these vegetables at farmers markets and through community supported agriculture or CSAs. CSA members pay once a year and receive vegetables weekly for 26 weeks.
My mother is a registered nurse and my father is a scientist, so I take this coronavirus pandemic very, very seriously. Through research and practice, I am constantly changing my farm operations and my distribution systems to ensure that everyone on my farm, and everyone I serve, stays healthy.
This year more than any, getting your vegetables through a CSA may be your best and safest way to get seasonal, nutritious food.
By joining a CSA, you get food security, food safety, high nutritional value that only freshly harvested food can guarantee, and a relationship of trust and commitment.
Here are some important points to consider:
Supply chains both domestically and globally have been disrupted. There are multiple points of vulnerability in the conventional food chain. Some farmers markets may not open this year. Even if they do open, the larger farms that rely on seasonal workers using the H-2A visa program may be short of help. The U.S. food industry relies on more than 200,000 guest workers. About 90% of the visas these workers need are issued in Mexico where U.S. consulates have been shut down.
There is a very low risk of transmitting the virus through contaminated food. The major source of contamination is through the air –– by coming in close contact with someone who is sick but who may not yet have any symptoms.
A major recommendation for staying safe is frequent hand washing. Food that passes through the conventional food system has been touched by many hands. Food from a local, organic farm has been touched by few hands.
There are no pesticides or preservatives used on organic CSA produce. There is no exchange of money or credit cards when you pick up your food because the season is paid for at the onset. CSA pickup locations are set up outdoors where there is much less chance of viral transmission.
Trust and communication
My farm has an open-door policy. You are invited and encouraged to visit. I host two annual events at the farm to tour the fields, discuss growing practices, share recipes and answer your questions. My goal is not just growing food but growing trust and communication with the people who buy and eat my food.
This COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates we are all interconnected. What we do in our homes and communities affects the world. By being part of a local, organic CSA, you are helping yourself, your family, your community and the world stay safer. We will get through this together. We will do whatever we can to keep you safe and to provide you with good food that will make you and your immune system strong and happy.
Henry Brockman is the owner of Henry’s Farm in Congerville. Access his website: https://brockmanfamilyfarming.com/henrys-farm/