Toronto, ON: Your local farmers’ market is going online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Local food not-for-profit Greenbelt Markets is rolling out an emergency program to cover the cost of providing up to 50 farmers’ markets and their vendors across the region with virtual market storefronts in the next two weeks. Customers will be able to shop and order from local farmers and food producers, and pick it up in a box at the site of their favourite local market.
Provided in partnership with Kitchener, Ontario tech start-up Local Line and supported by Greenbelt Foundation, the program will help dozens of farmers’ markets support their farmers and vendors affected by the pandemic while having access to a safe and reliable way to get their weekly groceries. “Local Line makes it easy for farmers and farmers markets to sell online and organize curb-side pickup so that households can continue to access healthy local food during COVID-19.” Says Local Line CEO, Cole Jones.
Customers can expect to shop a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, preserves, meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, honey, coffee, hot sauces, vegan options, local wine, and more – essentially, everything they’d typically find at their local in-person market.
Local farmers and suppliers are seeing huge increases in orders through their own platforms, but are struggling to find ways to distribute with farmers’ markets facing an uncertain future. “We’re excited about the possibilities with markets going online. When the pandemic hit, it was uncertain time for farmers, not knowing how we would connect with our usual market customers.” Says Liz of Joyfully Organic, a farm that typically attends four markets in the season. “Hosting the market online gives us a platform to connect to our customers, while markets are not able to operate in their usual spaces.”
Farmers can also use the platform to deliver directly to houses and residences, should they choose.
“The rug has really been pulled out from under so many small farmers as markets have always provided a vital venue for direct sales, but pretty much overnight that was all gone.” says Director Daniel Taylor. Across the region farmers and markets have been building their own virtual marketplaces at rapid speed, but Taylor felt a fast solution that fit the scale of the problem was needed. “We needed something we could roll out to dozens of markets in a matter of weeks, that could replace millions of dollars in sales within a few months.” The digital platform can scale to suit all sizes of markets, and farmers and vendors have full support from a team of digital experts in getting their products online.
The digital farmers’ market platforms have already begun onboarding, just in time for the start of the regular market season, with most markets only taking a brief delay in opening and starting mid-June.
To see if your local farmers’ market is operating an online model, please visit greenbeltmarkets.ca/map
For more information or press inquiries, please contact Director Daniel Taylor at [email protected]
Greenbelt Markets represents a network of over 80 farmers’ markets across Southern Ontario and is funded in part by the Greenbelt Foundation.