California Agriculture
California Agriculture
California Agriculture
University of California
California Agriculture

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Volume 0, Number 0

Research articles

Adaptation and sustainability: Lessons from Central Coast organic farmers during the pandemic
by Joanna Ory, Alastair Iles, Patrick Baur, Federico Castillo
| Full text HTML  | PDF  
Diversity in both cropping and marketing practices helped organic farmers meet pandemic challenges.
The challenges faced by organic vegetable farmers in California during the COVID-19 pandemic included uncertainty about food safety rules and best practices, availability of workers, and significant changes to their markets. When the pandemic began, we built on an ongoing interdisciplinary research project with organic vegetable farmers on the California Central Coast to track how those growers adapted to the crisis. We conducted surveys in April 2020 and January 2021 to determine impacts on farmers and how farm size, market channels, and management strategies influenced a farm's ability to adapt to and recover from pandemic-induced disruptions. We found that mid-sized farmers with flexible and diverse marketing channels could navigate changes from the pandemic with minimal losses and, in some cases, economic gains. By contrast, smaller farmers with limited resources, especially those with disadvantaged backgrounds and limited access to technology, experienced more drastic impacts, including lost markets, labor shortages, and increased childcare needs. The lessons learned can inform a transition toward more sustainable, resilient agroecological systems.
How agritourism helped farmers during the pandemic
by Rachael Callahan
| Full text HTML  | PDF  
California farmers mitigated some of the losses they suffered during the pandemic through direct-to-consumer sales and agritourism.
During COVID-19, California small farmers and ranchers suffered significant disruptions and shifts in the marketplace, marked by a loss in wholesale outlets and an increase in demand for direct-to-consumer sales. This study examines how agritourism operators responded to the challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic. In 2021 and 2022, in the midst of the pandemic, the UC ANR Agritourism Program held a series of trainings for California farmers interested in starting or expanding agritourism enterprises. Some of the key themes that emerged from the trainings were that farmers had to shift their operations to ensure social distancing and reduced crowd sizes, while at the same time, they experienced an unprecedented demand for direct-to-consumer sales and on-farm visits. Agritourism, in varying degrees, contributed to the resiliency of most of the participants in our study. Moving forward, it would be worthwhile for researchers, agricultural professionals, and decision-makers to examine equity in agritourism and agritourism's role as a risk-management strategy to help mitigate other types of disruptions in the future. Our findings also point to the need to provide farmers with technical assistance around e-commerce and sustainable business planning.
During COVID-19, Californians sought food security, connection and solace in their gardens
by Lucy Diekmann, Summer Cortez, Pauline Marsh, Jonathan Kingsley, Monika Egerer, Brenda Lin, Alessandro Ossola
| Full text HTML  | PDF  
During COVID-19, many Californians gardened to bolster food security and relieve stress but struggled to access materials.
Gardening offers a range of benefits, from food production to social connection to improved mental and physical health. When COVID-19 struck, interest in gardening soared, but it was unclear whether and how gardens would deliver these benefits in the midst of a global pandemic. We analyzed survey responses from 603 home and community gardeners across California, collected between June and August 2020, to assess trends in pandemic gardening. Gardeners highlighted the importance of gardens as therapeutic spaces where they could escape the stress of the pandemic, and as safe outdoor places for socializing. The study also revealed people's concerns about food supply, along with an accompanying interest in growing their own food to increase food security and self-sufficiency. The pandemic posed challenges for home gardeners, though, with 62% struggling to access gardening supplies. These findings suggest the importance of providing garden space, resources, and support, especially to those populations with the least access to green space, so that gardens can serve as resources to improve community health, food security, and resiliency during future disasters.
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Volume 0, Number 0

Research articles

Adaptation and sustainability: Lessons from Central Coast organic farmers during the pandemic
by Joanna Ory, Alastair Iles, Patrick Baur, Federico Castillo
| Full text HTML  | PDF  
Diversity in both cropping and marketing practices helped organic farmers meet pandemic challenges.
The challenges faced by organic vegetable farmers in California during the COVID-19 pandemic included uncertainty about food safety rules and best practices, availability of workers, and significant changes to their markets. When the pandemic began, we built on an ongoing interdisciplinary research project with organic vegetable farmers on the California Central Coast to track how those growers adapted to the crisis. We conducted surveys in April 2020 and January 2021 to determine impacts on farmers and how farm size, market channels, and management strategies influenced a farm's ability to adapt to and recover from pandemic-induced disruptions. We found that mid-sized farmers with flexible and diverse marketing channels could navigate changes from the pandemic with minimal losses and, in some cases, economic gains. By contrast, smaller farmers with limited resources, especially those with disadvantaged backgrounds and limited access to technology, experienced more drastic impacts, including lost markets, labor shortages, and increased childcare needs. The lessons learned can inform a transition toward more sustainable, resilient agroecological systems.
How agritourism helped farmers during the pandemic
by Rachael Callahan
| Full text HTML  | PDF  
California farmers mitigated some of the losses they suffered during the pandemic through direct-to-consumer sales and agritourism.
During COVID-19, California small farmers and ranchers suffered significant disruptions and shifts in the marketplace, marked by a loss in wholesale outlets and an increase in demand for direct-to-consumer sales. This study examines how agritourism operators responded to the challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic. In 2021 and 2022, in the midst of the pandemic, the UC ANR Agritourism Program held a series of trainings for California farmers interested in starting or expanding agritourism enterprises. Some of the key themes that emerged from the trainings were that farmers had to shift their operations to ensure social distancing and reduced crowd sizes, while at the same time, they experienced an unprecedented demand for direct-to-consumer sales and on-farm visits. Agritourism, in varying degrees, contributed to the resiliency of most of the participants in our study. Moving forward, it would be worthwhile for researchers, agricultural professionals, and decision-makers to examine equity in agritourism and agritourism's role as a risk-management strategy to help mitigate other types of disruptions in the future. Our findings also point to the need to provide farmers with technical assistance around e-commerce and sustainable business planning.
During COVID-19, Californians sought food security, connection and solace in their gardens
by Lucy Diekmann, Summer Cortez, Pauline Marsh, Jonathan Kingsley, Monika Egerer, Brenda Lin, Alessandro Ossola
| Full text HTML  | PDF  
During COVID-19, many Californians gardened to bolster food security and relieve stress but struggled to access materials.
Gardening offers a range of benefits, from food production to social connection to improved mental and physical health. When COVID-19 struck, interest in gardening soared, but it was unclear whether and how gardens would deliver these benefits in the midst of a global pandemic. We analyzed survey responses from 603 home and community gardeners across California, collected between June and August 2020, to assess trends in pandemic gardening. Gardeners highlighted the importance of gardens as therapeutic spaces where they could escape the stress of the pandemic, and as safe outdoor places for socializing. The study also revealed people's concerns about food supply, along with an accompanying interest in growing their own food to increase food security and self-sufficiency. The pandemic posed challenges for home gardeners, though, with 62% struggling to access gardening supplies. These findings suggest the importance of providing garden space, resources, and support, especially to those populations with the least access to green space, so that gardens can serve as resources to improve community health, food security, and resiliency during future disasters.

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