A pilot study exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on small-scale direct marketing farmers in Northwest Arkansas and their responses to the pandemic





COVID-19, Pandemic, Small-scale Farming, Direct Marketers, Local Food Systems, Food Security, Climate Resilience, Community Resilience, American Rescue Plan


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many disruptions and challenges in local and national food systems in America. Many farms and market gardens were forced to innovate quickly and take action to survive ongoing disruption as these businesses struggled with finances and distribution of products among other challenges. Many small-scale, local farming operations in particular were able to respond to these disruptions in unique ways, which may offer useful insight into how to better prepare small farming communities for public health and other kinds of disasters in the future. This pilot study aims to better understand how COVID-19 affected the local food system in the region of Northwest Arkansas in the mid-southern United States and how small-scale, direct-sales farmers responded to the pandemic, through a survey and interview about their experiences from 2019 to 2021. Participating farmers reported changes in farming procedures and challenges in owning or working on their farms due to ongoing climate-related environmental issues or issues specific to the pandemic, such as distributing products, utilizing financial and other resources of support, and partnering with local supply-chain partners and community members to ensure local businesses’ survival during COVID-19. This pilot study can provide insight into how local farming operations and their regional and smaller-scale supply chain partners have built and utilized community resilience strategies to survive COVID-19 challenges in the Northwest region of Arkansas. A statewide follow-up study will be conducted to observe how these producers navigated these challenges on a larger scale, including in different regions of Arkansas following the start of the pandemic.


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Author Biographies

Laura Florick, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

MPS; Assistant Project Coordinator, Center for Health Equity Research

Chul Hyun Park, University of Arkansas

PhD; Assistant Professor, Clinton School of Public Service



How to Cite

Florick, L., & Park, C. (2022). A pilot study exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on small-scale direct marketing farmers in Northwest Arkansas and their responses to the pandemic. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 12(1), 47–61. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.121.006