Farming Amid Upheaval: Refugia Gardens’ COVID-19 Response

Dear friends,

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created a wake of upheaval in our communities. Restaurants and cafés have closed. Grocery stores ramp up food imports. Many folks struggle to pay for basic needs and childcare without work. Hospitals begin preparations for the long haul. We feel the heaviness of these struggles, worry for those made most vulnerable in this time, and are inspired by the mutual aid work organized in response.

Pragmatically, we change our practices in how we grow and share food and how we keep ourselves and each other healthy. But we are still figuring out how best to carry forward our work. What does mutual aid look like while we keep physical distance? What kinds of possibilities can a bioregional food system offer in these moments of crisis? How can we work together to support and protect those made vulnerable through compromised health and livelihoods?


This virus underscores our desperate need to cultivate resilient, autonomous communities that come together to sustain each other—in times of acute disaster and in long crises. Below are initial steps we’re taking in response to the coronavirus and its troubles:

CSA shares are available. Despite the uncertainty around the market season this year, we can still provide local produce, as we’re blessedly facing this crisis at the beginning of the growing season. Our shares won’t start until late May, but this virus will be with us for weeks to come. Currently we still plan to have share pick-ups at an in-town location (pre-bagged, and we’re considering a “drive-through” model) and will offer drop-offs for elderly and immunocompromised CSA members. That being said, everything depends on what happens with global, regional, and community efforts to contain the spread. Additionally, we are still offering low-income/structural violence CSA shares, which certainly extend to those struggling (physically and economically) in this crisis.

Compost pickups are still happening. We will be taking extra precautions to wash buckets well and fully sanitize handles, rims, and lids. Buckets are left out in the sun for at least 2-3 days to dry after cleaning, and while much is still unknown about the virus’ longevity on different surfaces, prolonged direct UV exposure can help disinfect multiple kinds of infectious disease. Caleb, who picks up the compost, will reduce possible exposure by disinfecting points of contact on buckets/bins and using gloves and a face mask while swapping them out. We request you use gloves and hand sanitizer/soap & water before and after handling communal compost bins.

Produce is growing. Though none of us currently bear any signs of illness, we are working to reduce potential exposure to and from others. If any of the three of us begin having symptoms, we will stop working with our plants and will take time to rest and self-isolate before returning. The Flagstaff Community Market is expecting to delay opening until late May. Beyond our CSA, we are thinking about ways to get produce into your hands through our future farmstand, pop-up/drive-through markets, and a produce order/delivery/pick-up system through our website.

Mutual aid work flourishes. The Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual Aid group (sign-up form here) and a relief fund for Diné & Hopi families have cropped up to coordinate support for folks most vulnerable to the virus. The Flagstaff Family Food Center is shifting operations accordingly and needs healthy volunteers and donations. Uplift has created a COVID-19 Southwest Focus Resource Guide. Check in with neighbors, family members, friends, the land. Please reach out to us if you have specific needs in this crisis—if we can’t assist, we will work to find someone who can. This moment requires that we shelter together, however physically distant we might be.

Growing healthy food, sharing, giving thanks for the land and our communities, assisting each other—we will continue.

In solidarity,

Caleb, Heather, & Nick


Updated 4/4/20