Assistant Professor Dr. Chul Hyun Park and Laura Florick (’22) have co-authored a research article, “A pilot study exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on small-scale direct-marketing farmers in Northwest Arkansas and their responses to the pandemic” for the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.
The article, which is based on Florick’s Capstone research as a Clinton School Online student, aims to better understand how COVID-19 affected the local food system in the region of Northwest Arkansas and show how small-scale, direct-sales farmers responded to the pandemic.
From the article’s abstract:
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.
Park and Florick’s research used surveys and interviews to collect feedback from Northwest Arkansas farmers about their experiences from 2019 through 2021. The 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.
“The Clinton School’s flexibility allowed me to start my Capstone research early to make sure I did this project and the community I worked with justice,” Florick said. “I appreciate Dr. Park and the Clinton School’s support throughout the process. This is an online program where students can thrive and do impactful research and work.”
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.
Park is an Assistant Professor at the Clinton School of Public Service. He teaches Field Research Methods, Data Analysis, and Program Evaluation for Clinton School Online. Much of his recent research has focused on open and collaborative governance between government and non-state stakeholders, also known as e-governance. Prior to joining the Clinton School, he worked for the School of Public Affairs and the Center for Policy Informatics, both at Arizona State University. Park received his Ph.D. in public administration and policy from Arizona State University and a master’s degree from Georgia State University.
Florick, who earned her Master of Public Service through Clinton School Online, is an Assistant Project Coordinator supporting the RADx-UP (Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics – Underserved Populations) program at the University of North Carolina Center for Health Equity Research. In addition to her MPS, she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Kansas.
The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development is the world’s only peer-reviewed, transdisciplinary journal focused solely on food and farming-related community development. JAFSCD uses a double-blind peer review process, with expert reviewers who include researchers, scholars, and food systems professionals in the field.