Food & Drink

5 Ways COVID-19 Has Completely Changed Farmers Markets

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Farmers markets have lengthy been locations of deep connection, neighborhood constructing, and an unbelievable approach to assist your native financial system. Ask any frequent farmers-market shopper how their summer season 2020 went, although, they usually’ll possible let you know it was fairly grim. As with most types of gathering, the pandemic pressed pause on — or considerably altered — the operation of farmers markets for the higher a part of the 2020 season, on account of security issues.

As farmers markets cautiously come again (in fuller pressure) in 2021, It’s protected to say that they’re positively trying a lot totally different within the wake of COVID-19. As a former vendor supervisor with a deep curiosity in farmers markets, I witnessed the evolution firsthand. I additionally spoke with some people who find themselves nonetheless very a lot concerned with farmers markets to get the within scoop.

These are the adjustments I predict are right here to remain.

1. Distributors have critically embraced know-how.

“One change that can stick is the newfound consolation a lot of our farmers have with know-how,” says Catherine Crawford, a communication specialist for GrowNYC.

Over the previous 12 months, (most) farmers and distributors realized that having a social media presence and web site, utilizing QR codes, and accepting funds digitally is just about completely essential to run their companies. “These applied sciences have helped deliver markets into the long run and are a easy, handy method for patrons to buy and work together with manufacturers at markets,” says Lara Boudreaux of Björn’s Colorado Honey.

That sentiment was echoed by Louella Hill, an artisan cheesemaker and proprietor of Ballerino Creamery in Staunton, Virgina, who noticed it firsthand. “The pandemic compelled us to work rapidly to undertake new platforms that some had beforehand resisted.”

2. Money is now not king.

Talking of resisting technological platforms: Money has all the time been the popular fee at markets for an array of causes (specifically to keep away from financial institution charges for the vendor or the consumer), however being able to pay with a card is handy, fast, and, better of all, no-contact. That’s why it’s thrilling that contactless fee is on the rise.

“Lots of our farmers and distributors needed to lastly get extra tech-savvy as contactless fee grew to become a objective.” says Catt Fields White, supervisor of San Diego County’s largest farmers market, the Little Italy Mercato.

3. Pre-ordering and on-line buying are extra broadly obtainable.

Many farmers and distributors have created on-line marketplaces so prospects can pre-order or buy objects prematurely. “Folks like having the ability to store on-line or by cellphone, pay, and have your complete buy prepared for pickup after they come to your desk,” says Jennifer Soukup, proprietor of Soukup Farms

Not solely does this sort of e-commerce create one other income stream for farmers, nevertheless it additionally expands attain to individuals who aren’t capable of bodily store on the market. “This on-line mannequin helped native growers entry new prospects who by no means really made it out due to scheduling, children, or parking,” says Hill.

4. The buying expertise is much more streamlined.

When dashing up the fee course of grew to become obligatory, distributors discovered much more methods to do issues quicker, together with how their merchandise are packaged. “We used to promote our cheeses by random weights, however now standardize all the pieces to streamline the checkout course of. No extra small change!” says Hill.

In some circumstances, markets have tailored in order that prospects can swing by and easily buy a field of contemporary produce, CSA-style. “Many people have tailored to creating CSA packing containers, which has helped to maintain gross sales up and alter our distribution patterns,” explains Diana Rodgers, farmers market supervisor of Mar Vista, Los Angeles.

The pandemic confirmed us all the worth buying small — particularly for meals. “When provide chains broke down, new prospects found our work with regional grains and the significance of resilient, regional meals programs,” says Crawford.

It additionally helped folks develop of their appreciation for regionally grown and produced meals. ”Our neighborhood grew to become extra conscious of the hassle required to handle their native farmers market, and appreciated that we had been working so arduous to guard our farmers’ livelihoods and our neighbors’ entry to contemporary, tasty meals,” says White. “Our customers are much more loyal to regionally grown meals now.”

“Each week, we hear from our neighborhood members how grateful they’re for this area, the place they will join with their neighbors and the important individuals who develop and make our meals,” says Meyer. “We consider that renewed sense of neighborhood — that we’re all on this collectively — will proceed to develop stronger.”

Lauren David


Lauren David is a Chilean-American freelance author. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time in her backyard the place she crops numerous vegetable and herb varieties, experimenting with components within the kitchen or taking a stroll within the forest.

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