Abstract On March 13, 2020, Spain declared a state of alarm due to the health emergency caused by COVID-19. In this scenario, the agri-food sector had to respond to a high demand in terms of production and supply. Among the different production models within the sector there are small agroecological initiatives that aim to develop peasant lifestyles beyond the reproduction of capital. The small agroecological initiatives have had to adapt to the changes imposed by the state of alarm in order to continue with their main activity: the production and distribution of food on a local scale. With a qualitative approach, the paper reflects on the challenges that small agroecological initiatives have faced with the regulations of public life and the effects that the measures have had on their activity. The research also focuses on questioning the dual role of the informal economy as both a shock absorber and a constraint. The paper analyzes the role played by the informal economy in the local agri-food sector in the peri-urban area of Barcelona and Madrid.