Mikal M Giancola, MPH and Eve C. Pinsker, PhD
Insufficient consumption of fresh produce in poor and minority communities in the US has been addressed through subsidizing farmers’ markets (USDA, 2021). In March 2020, Louisiana’s tobacco and obesity prevention coalition supported the adaptation of two farmers markets’ business models after COVID-19 halted in-person operations. Funding supported marketing, adoption of online platforms, and farmer incentives. Giancola, a facilitator and evaluator for LHCC, conducted an initial study examining the changes in these farmers markets during COVID-19 aiming to investigate: 1. Did the farmer’s market initiatives promote innovation in the food system? 2. What types of learning facilitated innovation? What other factors were facilitating innovation? 3. How did the situation with COVID-19 affect the ability of stakeholders involved with the farmers markets to learn and innovate over time? Giancola used qualitative methods and a modified Holling’s cycle as an analytic model to understand how innovation unfolds over time (Fath, Dean, & Katzmair, 2015; Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña, 2020). Analysis showed COVID-19 and LHCC support resulted in multiple innovations supporting short-term resilience. The effort to follow and document change and learning over time addresses the tension between the design of interventions as an initial strategic planning process vs. ongoing cycles of learning and co-evolution.
Keywords: PSE change, farmers markets, innovation, learning