“This pandemic has exposed every weakness in our food system,” says Nicole Witham, statewide coordinator of the Washington State University Food Systems Program. “It has exposed every supply chain issue”—especially early on.
“Food wasn’t showing up at food banks,” says Witham (’10 Int. Des). “Grocery stores were experiencing shortages. All of a sudden, our team was doing food-system response work,” including involvement with a statewide task force.
When lockdown orders first went into effect, Witham says, Washington state’s small farmers “lost all of their restaurant accounts and many of their wholesale accounts right off the bat. Many had to switch to online farmers market platforms or online sales.”
Come late summer, Alaska’s farmland blooms with romance and colorful ruffles. It’s the season for peonies in the north country—an unlikely floral industry that, thanks to bridal demand, has given rise to a surprising horticultural gold rush.
The lure is especially tempting for those with small parcels of land. Wayne ’76 and Patti ’75 Floyd, for example, joined the stampede in 2011 with only two acres, and have since created a successful business claiming both national and international markets.
“We’d had this farm bug in our hearts from the beginning but we were never in a place that we could do that,” says Patti. … » More …