Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Online Farmers Markets

When we started selling vegetables five years ago we really had no idea how to start.  I knew I could grow things.  But I had no idea how to get involved in a farmers market and quite frankly was very intimidated by them.  Luckily for me I happened across this website, a fledgling farmers market-perfect for a fledgling farmer like myself.  Since many of my friends are still confused about the way we sell through this market and others like it, I thought I would explain how it works.

Conway Locally Grown is an online farmers of the first in a relatively new trend for farmers across the country.  The concept has really been great for both farmers and consumers.  In the case of Conway Locally Grown, the "Locally Grown" software allows a group of farmers (under the watch of a market manager) to list on Sunday the items they expect to have available on Friday.  The customers are then able to place orders from Sunday evening until Tuesday evening.  On Wednesday morning the farmer gets an email telling him how many orders of each individual item he sold and needs to bring to the drop-off location on Friday.  Then the farmers drop off their items, volunteers inventory and sort items and customers arrive between 3:30 and 6 on Friday afternoon to pick up their orders and pay.  

It really works great for small farmers like us.  Not only are we able to drop our produce off and continue on our way, we know ahead of time exactly how much we have sold.  We don't have to worry about spending time picking produce that may never leave our booth.  The downside to this type of market is that we miss out on making the relationships with customers like the ones we see every Saturday at our tailgate markets.  That is one of the reasons this blog came to be.  We are hoping that customers that merely know us through the internet can get to know us as well as the customers we see every Saturday morning.

Last spring we started selling in Little Rock and it made sense to pick up the Little Rock Locally Grown market as well run by the Arkansas Sustainability Network at .  It really was a great market for us last summer and we are looking forward to getting back there this spring as our growing season begins.

Finally, last spring we also added a new Locally Grown market called Farm2Work - .  The concept behind this market is a little different from the other two in that not only are the customers joining an online food buying club but their produce is being delivered to their offices.   Not having planted enough to accommodate that market last summer, we only sold through it for a few weeks but we are hoping to be regulars there this year.

I think that pretty much sums up my online farmers market experience.  Check out the links to learn more about these organizations....they are run by some pretty cool people doing some pretty amazing things.  We feel really lucky to be part of their organizations.  

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