I assume my readers have correctly surmised that I live in the hurricane zone of New Orleans and that as a result, am always interested in talking with operators about and looking for ways to prepare for the inevitable interruption. How markets help in the recovery and rebuilding of current disasters and what we develop as a resistance to future disasters is something for which we can all prepare ourselves. Disasters that U.S. markets have had to handle just this half decade include damage to persons, home and food production because of climate chaos, infrastructure collapse, civil unrest, mass shootings, police actions, pandemic shutdowns and I’m sure there are more types that I forgot to cover.
As a New Orleans resident and as a part-time US market consultant, I am always thinking about how I can help my own area and others too.
At FMC too we think a lot about it, since we provide support to markets (through grants and contracts) by:
a) facilitating technical assistance or networking with peers or building communities of practice to solve an issue;
b) the development or dissemination of resources;
c) offering analysis of the sector, of programs or directly to a market;
d) assisting or leading in the development of low or high tech suitable for market operational needs.
…- so check in with me if you have ideas about how FMC can do that around disaster recovery. Here is some of what we have gathered and created so far. And we are also excited to be a founding member of the World Farmers Markets Coalition where we expect to learn much to bring back to US markets on this subject and others.
On their own, most market organizations will not be able to organize themselves out of a disaster because the long effort over many phases requires prior informal and formal relationships with local and regional governments, and some resources that are held outside of the impact zone. So the goal should be to have updated regional databases of farmers, value-added producers, production areas, agricultural experts, justice allies (cuz disaster is quite often a time when privilege and racist policies are the structure used to offer support and to restore communities), templates, data about the market sector around the disaster area, and the right connections already made with government entities and activists in and around the food system.
One reason that those local and regional governments will search for your organization after a disaster will be because of those databases and the shared lessons from other market communities you have but for it to be helpful to those entities, your preparation will need to be more than just about your market community. So organizing now around civic and agricultural partnerships- even if done lightly for now – will allow a faster recovery by keeping you at the table and in the loop. And when farmers and others see your ability to respond to a moment, you could even grow your market once recovery is over.