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We Are Essential: Building Community Resilience

by Rebekah Weber |

“We Are Essential” is a blog series that explores how the organic community is navigating the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Our farms, ranches, and businesses deliver truly essential services, staying open and in the field to provide nutritious food to our communities. Each week, we will share a new story that highlights how organic is critical to the global response. We welcome hearing how you are impacted and invite you to email us at policy@ccof.orgWe also have a list of crisis resilience resources to help you weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resilience is about bouncing back after a crisis. But bouncing back on your own is near impossible. The organic community has a long history of supporting each other, including the hardship assistance grants the CCOF Foundation distributes that will be a critical part of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In nature, organisms rely on a web of interactions for survival. A bee pollinates a flower, which feeds a deer. Ecosystems are strongest when they are diverse and complex. Multiple organisms fill the same role so that if one is vulnerable, the others can step in. That way, when there is a disturbance, the ecosystem recovers. Nature has a lot to teach us about building resilient systems.

Organic farmers understand the need for complexity. By cover cropping, composting, and rotating crops and livestock, organic farmers build rich soils teeming with life. This biodiversity helps create healthy soils that store more nutrients and water and improve the farm’s resilience. Like in nature, our farms are one component of the whole food system. Whether we are an eater, a farmer, a truck driver, or a grocery store, we are linked by the food and dollars that we exchange. And the resilience of our community depends on the strength of our relationships.

During this time of incredible change and uncertainty, our relationships are our safety net. Whether it is advice on tapping into a new market, sharing a website with a fellow farmer and marketing products together, or raising our collective voice to advocate for government support, these connections across the organic community are essential to our resilience and to our work of feeding the nation. 

To support the community, the CCOF Foundation offers economic assistance to organic farmers, processors, and handlers who suffer losses during extreme hardship. Over the past eight years, 180 certified organic businesses across the country have received financial support through CCOF Foundation’s Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund. We encourage you to learn more.

Across the nation, organic farmers, business owners, and workers are coming together to advocate for themselves and their communities. Dozens of CCOF members contacted their U.S. representatives and senators last month to ask for additional support for farmers in the federal coronavirus relief package. Congress invested $9.5 billion in farm relief, in part, because of this farmer activism. 

Our diverse organic network is essential to securing our food system and providing nourishment during crisis. For those working tirelessly to keep us fed, please know that you are not alone. Together, the organic community will bounce back.