A qualitative investigation of resilience among small farms in western Washington State

Experiences during the first growing season of COVID-19

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.114.007

Keywords:

COVID-19, Pandemic, Farm, Washington State, Impact, Resilience, Values, Interview, Qualitative, Small Farms

Abstract

The 2020 growing season presented new and sig­nificant challenges for farmers and farms across the United States as they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. The rich and diverse agricultural land­scape of Washington State offers a valuable micro­cosm in which to explore the experiences of farms in the U.S. during the pandemic. The pur­pose of this study was to qualitatively assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on directly marketing small farms in western Washington State, with a focus on farmers’ experiences with resilience. We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 15 farmers and used thematic analysis to explore the influence of the pandemic on overall experiences, responses, and values and perceptions related to small farms. Interviewees provided insights on the impacts of the pandemic on their daily farm operations, production costs, marketing channels, demand, and revenue. Farmers also reported shifting personal and public attitudes towards small farms during the pandemic. Product diversity, flexibility, multiple forms of support, values, and access to resources emerged as drivers of COVID-19 impacts and farm adaptations. When compared to existing frameworks on farm resilience, farms in this study are seen to demon­strate resilience via buffer and adaptive capabilities, which enable them to absorb and adjust to shocks. Farmers also discussed resilience via transformative capability, the potential to create new systems, lev­eraging the collective power of small farms to shape future food systems. Future research on the resilience of small farms should focus on ways to both promote resilience attributes and facilitate the ability of farmers to act on resilience capabilities.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Dani Ladyka, University of Washington

MS, RDN; Nutritional Sciences Program, School of Public Health

Yona Sipos, University of Washington

PhD; Nutritional Sciences Program, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health

Marie L. Spiker, University of Washington

PhD, MSPH, RDN; Nutritional Sciences Program, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health

Sarah M. Collier, University of Washington

PhD; Nutritional Sciences Program, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health

Published

2022-07-28

How to Cite

Ladyka, D., Sipos, Y., Spiker, M., & Collier, S. (2022). A qualitative investigation of resilience among small farms in western Washington State: Experiences during the first growing season of COVID-19. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(4), 1–25. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.114.007