Originally published as a column on CFJC Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on April 20th, 2020.

On Saturday, our neighbourhood was speckled with yellow all over: bags of food donations for the Foodbank. To say that the Kamloops community gave generously would be an understatement: 70,000 pounds of food, which should be ensuring the supply for the next six months, according to their Facebook page. Thank you to everyone who did not forget to stuff the yellow bags and big thanks to the volunteers who collected it all!

That’s one way of giving back to a community that is, like the rest of the world, affected by the pandemic. It cannot stop there though.

Since physical distancing has been instituted, we have been learning new ways of keeping our heads above the water. It’s a whole new lifestyle, right? But the one thing that stands out time and time again is that no one can do it on their own. We’re leaning on each other to make good things happen (see my previous column featuring the Caremongering movement and the associated N2N website, both volunteer-run.)

One of the good things we are encouraged to contribute to is helping local businesses get through the covid-19 crisis. We are encouraged to order food from local restaurants, which you can pick up or have delivered by a local business; we are told to shop in local food stores as much as possible because that is how the local economy will survive through these tough times. All of this while observing proper physical distancing and the strict hygiene rules most of us have by now made our second nature.

One way of supporting our local economy – and an important part of it too – is by supporting our local farmers. The opening of the farmer’s market this weekend has caused controversy in the community. I visited it and was pleasantly surprised to see that there was someone reinforcing the rules of physical distancing and no dogs allowed, and staying six feet away from vendors and other people was not an issue.

It was different with vendors spaced out and people moving cautiously, minding the distance, but it was also good to see that this important part of our community – the local farmers – can be supported so they too can make it through the crisis. There are no craft vendors allowed, but anyone wanting to order anything they used to love finding at the farmer’s market can do so online here.

Some believe the market should not be opened at all. But, much like all food stores in town, they provide what we cannot do without: food, and they also abide by the public health agency recommendations to maintain physical distancing and hygiene. This time of year, they provide means for us to do our own gardening, which by the way, has just been upgraded from ‘sure, that’d be nice to try’ to ‘let’s roll up our sleeves and do it because times are challenging’. Moreover, they are happy to offer advice aplenty for anyone whose green thumbs are not green enough yet.

Bottom line: let’s give our local economy as big a helping hand as we can during these times. There is much fear out there about what the future holds, and one way to alleviate those worries is to rely more on the local economy and less on the global one. Rather than throwing judgment at the idea of a functioning, rule-abiding farmer’s market, let’s improve the way it is done, should anyone see gaps in the process, but let’s not leave this important part of our local economy out in the cold. The more food is produced by nearby farmers, the less we rely on it to be shipped from far away which means we are better equipped to thrive as a community, no matter what crisis comes over us.

The way we’ve been doing things so far in this community – the latest food donations included, shows that we really do take the ‘we’re in it together’ part seriously. Let’s keep on doing it; everyone will be better for it when this crisis ends. Because it will.