Economies of community in local agriculture

Farmers in New London, Connecticut, respond to the COVID-19 pandemic




Community Economies, COVID-19, Pandemic, Local Food Systems, Small-Scale Farms, Resilience, Food Access, Food Security


The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the weak­nesses of the U.S. national food system, with grocery store shelves emptied in March and April 2020 and COVID outbreaks reported throughout the summer of 2020 at meat processing plants across the country. Fleetingly, Americans turned to local farms to ensure they could access food safely in a time of uncertainty. This paper examines the economies of community that formed around local farms and how direct engagements between con­sumers and producers in the face of the pandemic deepened these economic structures that often put community well-being above profits. Within a capitalist system that prioritizes efficient mass production, economies of community illustrate that solidarity can improve local food system resilience. Based on qualitative and quantitative research carried out in the summer of 2020 in New London County in southeastern Connecticut, this research draws on ethnographic interviews with small-scale farmers who developed innovative ways to feed some of their community’s most vulnerable members. Community economies show that we should not only depend on standardized large-scale farms and giant retail distribution; the American food system needs to continue to cultivate small-scale local production in order to improve re­silience and food access. At present, the sus­tainability of producing and distributing food occurs at the farmer’s expense. The government needs to support local food producers so they can continue to play an integral part in community well-being.


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Author Biographies

Rachel E. Black, Connecticut College

Associate Professor, Anthropology Department

Adalie S. Duran, Connecticut College

Undergraduate student



How to Cite

Black, R., & Duran, A. (2022). Economies of community in local agriculture: Farmers in New London, Connecticut, respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 12(1), 19–34.