Lincoln, Neb. —The opening of some farmers markets is delayed this year because of COVID-19, and other markets are debating whether to open at all. This has left many consumers seeking local foods and Nebraska producers looking for markets for their meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit.
Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska, a program run by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics, has developed an online directory to connect consumers with locally-produced foods for home delivery or pickup.
Producers in the Local Food Resource List are members of the Buy Fresh Buy Local program. Farmers, along with farmers markets, restaurants and grocery stores that sell fresh local foods, can purchase membership to Buy Fresh Buy Local. The program uses membership fees for marketing and educational efforts that raise the profile of member businesses.
Earlier this year, 32 local producers joined the network after the program offered scholarships to producers affected by COVID-19.
“We now have over 100 members that are all across the state,” said program coordinator Skylar Falter. “We’re excited to get the word out about what they have — demand is really high right now.”
Over the past two months, Falter has seen an increase in farmers selling produce and other home-grown foods directly to consumers.
“What local food is about is community and culture, and when you know the people who are growing your food, it adds value to that meal and your life,” Falter said. “When you know where your food is coming from and you can talk to the farmer if you want to know how it is raised or grown.”
Supporting local producers also supports the state economy, she said. If each of the approximately 720,000 Nebraska households spent just $10 per week on locally grown foods, it could bring $371 million back into the state’s economy each year, according to Nebraska Extension.
Nebraskans can also find the 2020 Nebraska Food Guide and other resources at the website above.
Published each year, the Nebraska Food Guide explores the diversity of Nebraska-grown foods and includes information about seasonal produce, recipes, a searchable map of member farms and even poetry. The guide can be accessed online or readers can request a hard copy.
“The guide is a great resource for anyone who is a longtime local food supporter or someone who is just curious about learning more about where their food comes from,” Falter said.
More than 100 Buy Fresh Buy Local farmers, ranchers and local farm-to-table restaurants submitted the recipes, which are divided into spring, summer, fall and winter to promote the use of seasonal produce.
A new feature of the guide is the Loving Local Food Poetry, where Nebraskans can send their original poetry about local food.
“The poetry features people who live in Nebraska and their connection to agriculture, growing food and cooking,” Falter said. “It’s just really uplifting to read. It’s something to keep us connected and feeling positive during this time.”
For the past 10 years, Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska’s efforts have been to support the state’s farmers, ranchers and producers to increase their knowledge of food safety regulation, as well as increase their market share in both rural and underserved urban communities. The program is developing a sustainable food system that nurtures resilient relationships across the local food supply chain.