The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

COVID19 Updates and Resources

Last update: 7/3/20

This is certainly a time for us to come together to share resources and words of encouragement. NOFA/Mass is grateful for the work of allies in the food advocacy and sustainable agriculture world who have assembled a great wealth of COVID-19 related resources. We have curated the below set of resources from the resource documents listed at the very bottom of this page, and would refer our members to those pages, as well.

Please note that this page is NOT meant to be a general resource about the virus or the public response. For that information we recommend the CDC or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Please also note that this list does notconstitute an endorsement of any particular program, guidance, or course of action.  

For NOFA/Mass endorsed advocacy campaigns related to COVID-19, please see our “Take Action” page.

If you have suggestions for content, please provide comments or suggested edits directly to the google doc version of this page, here.

 

 

Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 (coronavirus) without Toxic Sanitizers and Disinfectants

 

For Eaters

Organic and Sustainable Food Guide (NOFA/Mass) - Statewide listings of organic and sustainable farms, farmstands and CSAs 

MassGrown “How and Where to Buy Local” (MDAR)

Online Ordering, Home Deliveries, and Closures (CISA) -Local farms, restaurants, and other businesses are responding quickly to new recommendations and concerns related to the spread of coronavirus. We [at CISA] are doing our best to capture new systems that they are setting up to sell to customers and closures as we hear about them. This page is updated daily with any changes, updates and adaptations we know of.

Local (Boston) food delivery/pickup options (edibleBOSTON)

Mass. Farmers Markets list of delivery services 

Mass. Farmers Markets closure status 

COVID-19 food safety recommendations and frequently asked questions for the consumer (Cornell Institute for Food Safety) -How fresh produce should be be washed, whether different types of food pose more or less risk, whether extra precautions should be taken during home food preparation, and more.

Food safety and the coronavirus: a comprehensive guide - This is a helpful video by chef and journalist Kenji Lopez-Alt that discusses fact-checked answers to common FAQs surrounding food safety and COVID-19. See also this accompanying article, which includes a thorough list of FAQs that the author plans to update as new information becomes available.

SNAP eligibility for college students affected by campus closures and classes. (MLRI)  

Food Assistance/SNAP Benefits and COVID-19 (MLRI)  

 

For Farmers

5/22/20 update from NOFA-VT

This week, USDA announced the eligibility criteria and application process for farmers to receive direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)Applications will be accepted starting on Tuesday, May 26th and funds will be disbursed on a first come, first serve basis. If you plan to apply, we recommend that you contact your local FSA office as soon as possible to start the process, and see below for more information.

While we're at it, we want to share some additional information you may find useful regarding COVID-19 relief for farmers: 

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Details

If you are considering applying to CFAP, we recommend watching this helpful 3-minute video from USDA to learn more about the process and begin getting your paperwork in order. If you have not worked with the FSA before and do not know your local office's location, there is a "Find Your Local Service Center" tool at the bottom of the CFAP page

 

Based on what we know about the program and payment structure, there are many issues that make it problematic for organic and diversified producers. Our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) have put together a useful guide to help you decide if this program could benefit you. 

 

Updates re: CFAP from National Sustainable Agriculture Coaltion (7/3/20)

 

USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program continues to accept applications from producers. As of this week's latest data, the program has given out approximately $4.8 billion of its $16 billion in funding. 

In addition to highlighting in the media and within Congress the program’s shortcomings, we also are working to do our best to get information out to producers about how the program works and to ensure they have solid information to make an informed choice about applying for aid. I’ve collected below some resources - several new! - we are making widely available to help: 

  • CFAP 101 page on NSAC’s website  - contains links to everything below + additional information, including several case studies and examples for producers.

  • NEW - Detailed Farmers' Guide to CFAP (PDF, 100 pages) - this technical resource is the most detailed and comprehensive. If you’re working with producers, this is a really helpful reference. Our partners at FLAG led the drafting with input from NSAC policy staff.

  • CFAP Eligibility Basics (PDF, 1 page) - this is a one-page quick reference to help producers assess their eligibility.

  • CFAP detailed blog post

  • NEW - CFAP detailed blog post in Spanish (PDF) - this PDF contains the full text of our detailed CFAP deep dive blog post  in Spanish, translated thanks to our partners at NCAT!

  • Farmers Feedback Form: Farmers can confidentially share their experience with accessing federal aid, especially CFAP, with Farm Aid / NSAC: https://www.tfaforms.com/4828724 

 

Recorded webinars from Future Harvest

  • "Hands-On" Bed Preparation with Oak Spring Farm Recorded 4/25
  • Strategies For Managing Financial Risks During COVID-19 Recorded 4/23
  • Marketing Part 1: Crafting Your Vision Recorded 4/13
  • Marketing Part 2: Connecting With Your Customer Recorded 4/20
  • Farmer-To-Farmer Chat: Flower Farming in a Changing Industry Recorded 4/17
  • Food Safety in the Time of COVID: Post Harvest Handling Recorded 3/26
  • COVID Call for Farmers - Hosted By Future Harvest Recorded 3/25

 

UMass Extension Vegetable Program’s Weekly Farmer Call

"Join us each Wednesday at 3pm for a virtual Twilight Meeting!"

"Each week we will have a crop, pest, or farm management topic lined up for demonstration and discussion. Some weeks will have more presenation, other weeks will have more time for discussion, but you are always welcome to ask questions of us or other growers who have called in on any farm-related topic. 

"Farmers can join by phone or by computer—those who join by computer will be able to see some shared photos and presentations.

"This is a new program that we hope will allow us to connect with growers while we are not able to physically visit farms for routine scouting and assistance. It is intended for our commercial farmers and will cover topics relevant to small and large scale farm businesses and conventional and organic production systems.

"Some portions of some calls may be recorded and posted for later listening. Links to previous recorded calls will be linked to on this site.

  • Upcoming topics:
  • ·       May 13: Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting on the Farm in the Era of COVID-19
  • There are differences among cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting that are important to understand in developing new protocols for your farm during the pandemic and in general for routine sanitation. We will cover the basic principles behind these terms and discuss what we know (and don’t know) so far about how to apply them on your farm this season.
  • ·       More, TBA!

Visit the UMass Extension website, here. 

 

General resources for farmers

MDAR COVID-19 resource page for agriculture - Mass Department of Agricultural Resources has guidance for farmers, farm stands, and markets on their COVID-19 resource page for agriculture, including grant and loan programs for farmers. 

Considerations for Fruit and Vegetable Growers Related to Coronavirus & COVID-19  (University of Vermont) 

COVID-19 FAQ for U-Pick Farms from North Carolina State Extension 

MA DPH guidance on wearing masks - This guidance encourages the wearing of cloth masks, including guidelines for proper usage and instructions on how to make cloth masks. MDAR recommends that farms follow this guidance in the workplace.

MA DPH guidance for nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, and ag supply stores - MA nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, and agriculture supply stores that sell food or food producing plants for human consumption are currently allowed to continue to operate brick and mortar premises, as long as they comply with the guidelines outlined in this document. Note that those operations that sells solely plants that do not produce food for human consumption shall remain closed.

MA DPH order addressing grocery stores and guidance for grocery stores - These two links – the executive order governing operations for grocery stores issued March 25th, and follow-up guidance issued April 7th – describe the required safety measures that grocery stores must implement to remain in operation as an essential service.

MDAR’s considerations for fruit and vegetable growers related to COVID-19 - This memo from MDAR is intended to help guide the fruit and vegetable farming community and was produced in cooperation with Northeast Center for Advance Food Safety.

Farmer to farmer suggestions for navigating COVID-19

The Covid-19 Crisis: Planning for Extra Care on your Farm (The Agricultural Justice Project)

COVID Response and Resource Page (The ATTRA program at the National Center for Appropriate Technology)

COVID-19 Guidelines for Safe Community Gardening (Hannah Traggis)

Find more well-curated resources for Farms and Food Businesses at the CISA Resource page

 

 

Marketing and business management in time of COVID-19

Communicating Your Farm's COVID-19 Practices to Customers (FutureHarvest)

  • General COVID-19 Resources 
  • Considerations on WHAT to communicate to your customers 
  • Considerations on HOW to communicate to your customers 
  • EXAMPLES of website pages and messages farmers have sent to customers
  • A template for emailing or posting your farm's COVID-19 response 

Marketing during COVID-19 - resources from MOFGA

Direct Sales Software Platforms (National Young Farmers Coalition) - Outline of features and prices of direct sales software systems for farmers. (We do not endorse any of these services. List provided for educational purposes.)

Running a Food Business in the face of COVID-19 (CommonWealth Kitchen)

Building Farm Resilience in this crisis -  Cornell Small Farms Program recently launched a curated resource page to support the farming community.

A Readiness Assessment for Continuity of Farm Business - This open-source checklist developed by PASA and Penn State Extension helps farmers develop a business continuity plan to adapt to and support contingency planning during the pandemic.

Multilingual resources on COVID-19 for use in communicating with employees.

Easy-to-understand infographics and short video clips that farm workers and managers can listen to or watch in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Maya Mam. (Agricultural Justice Project)

 

Farmer and Small Business Relief Programs

Farmers’ Guide to COVID-19 Relief (Farmers’ Legal Action Group, 4/27)

MEMA Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program - EIDLs provide small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses until normal operations resume.  

AFT Farmer Relief Grant Program -  This program will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis.  Initially, eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs.

United Way Covid-19 Family Support Fund - The fund will support the work of 20 organizations throughout Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire in administering emergency assistance to families of hourly and low-wage workers, providing one-time grants of up to $2,000 to cover food, housing, and child care.

CISA Emergency Farm Fund - CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund offers zero-interest loans to assist farms struggling to meet their immediate needs as a result of crisis events.  

Mass Food Trust Program (MFTP) -  The Massachusetts Food Trust Program (MFTP) provides loans, grants, and business assistance for increasing access to healthy, affordable food in low-income, underserved areas.

PVGrows Investment Fund - The PVGrows Investment Fund (PVGIF) has financing available for equipment, working capital, startup expenses, and more.  PVGIF is designed as an alternative for borrowers who may not qualify for more traditional bank financing.  

MA COVID-19 Relief Fund - This fund will provide funding to non-profit organizations to support those across the state most impacted by this health crisis, including immigrants and undocumented residents, those facing food insecurity, and others.

How the CARES Act will support relief to farmers - keep up to date with federal relief efforts through regularly analysis from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's blog and action alerts.

The Carrot Project.  - An excellent list of state, federal, private and non-traditional agricultural and commercial financing options in New England and New York.

Grants and Incentives for Northeast Agriculture - Summarizes federal, regional and state grants and other incentives available to help Northeast farms of all types and sizes. Farm Credit East

 

Farmers Markets

MDAR’s guidance for farmers’ markets, farm stands, and CSAs - Full list of MDAR’s recommendations of best practices for farmers’ markets, farm stands, and other local produce retail sites to limit the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 guidance for Massachusetts Farmers Markets (Mass Farmers Markets) 

Farmers Markets Respond to COVID19 (Farmers’ Market Coalition) (3/14)

MarketLink Program, Free SNAP card reader - If you sell at a farmers' market or are a direct marketing farmer, you may qualify for a free card reader and a one-year subscription to TotilPay Go, which ensures accurate transactions by automatically matching SNAP-eligible items with the best payment method.

See more resources for Farmers Markets at the CISA Resource page

 

Stress, Mental Health, and Well-Being

Maintaining Emotional Health & Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak (Mass.gov)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline : 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line : Text "CONNECT" to 741741

Disaster Distress Helpline (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)

Recognizing the Signs of Farm Family Stress

FarmAid - available M-F, 9-5 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243)

Communicating with farmers overwhelmed by stress (Center for Dairy Excellence)

Farm and Ranch Family Stress and Depression  - checklist and guide for making referrals. (Colorado State University Extension)

Love in the Time of Corona  - a positive message “In a time of Corona, let us acknowledge our fear, but feed our hope. What we feed will grow.” (Cooperative Development Institute)

Managing Farm Related Stress communication tips, resources and warning signs. (University of Maryland Extension)

Stress and Wellness Resources for farmers. (Dairy Center for Excellence)

 

Soil Testing

As of 4/16/20 the UMass Soil Testing Lab is unfortunately still closed. 

However, as of 4/16/20 Logan Labs is still OPEN.  NOFA/Mass can provide a soil consultation based on your Logan Lab results.  See our Soil Technical Assistance Program page for more details. 

 

Food Policy related to COVID-19

See the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative’s COVID-19 Resources Page

 

Immigrant and Racial Justice

COVID-19 Resources for Undocumented Communities (The Betancourt-Macias Family Scholarship Foundation)

MA Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition’s resources on protecting families and communities

Racial Equity & Social Justice Resources includes resources that can help communities and activists as they work to understand and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic (Racial Equity Tools)

 

Miscellaneous 

Mask patterns and guidance

 

 

Resources on this page have been derived from the following resource pages of our allies, partners and friends:

 

Anything missing?...

If you have suggestions for content, please provide comments or suggested edits directly to the google doc version of this page, here.

 

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