Farm to Internet to Table for Bradenton Farmer’s Market

Good Bite

BY ANDREW FABIAN, ANDREW.FABIAN@SRQME.COM SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY MAY 5, 2020

In recent years, farmers’ markets have become a social event as much as they are a great place to get farm-fresh produce. It’s a place to meet up, have some coffee or fresh-pressed juice, shop for artisanal crafts and jewelry, and enjoy a bit of sunshine. Peg Haynes, manager of the Bradenton Farmer’s Market, feels the loss of this social aspect more acutely than most. But, while the COVID-19 closure of the market is unfortunate, it forced her to explore new ways of making sure people can stock their refrigerators with nutritious, locally grown food. And like many businesses, adaptations made in the short-term have the potential to change the game in the long term. 

The Bradenton Farmer’s Market closed on March 14th, and by the end of the month, it became evident it would be closed for much longer. So, when Haynes was offered the services of a web developer to design a retail website for the market, she pounced. “We were all hearing about Dakin having to get rid of their milk,” she says, and the same went for farms chock full of produce ready to pick but nowhere to go. The website was up and running by mid-April, and on April 18th, Haynes oversaw a soft opening of 20 orders. “It went well,” she says, “so we opened up completely.” The following Saturday, the market’s team managed to crank out 96 contact-free orders in 2 hours. Of course, the whole program needed a place to operate out of. “Mindy Hill of Angel Oak Café approached us and said she’d let us use her restaurant to store the perishables,” says Haynes, “so we all owe her a big ‘thank you.’” In particular, the Café’s refrigeration meant that the market now had a place to store some of that Dakin dairy that would otherwise have gone to waste. 

Underlying this quick transition from physical to web-based market is, paradoxically, a social component. Realize Bradenton, the umbrella under which the farmer’s market operates, has been responsible for ushering in the network of community-minded vendors that has supported this transition. So, even as families and individuals order their farm-fresh produce from the market’s website, people continue to matter. In addition, the website has the potential to offer smaller farms an additional distribution stream for their products. “We’re working with Blue Lily Farms to help them get their blueberries out,” says Haynes, “where they otherwise would not have been able to get them out.” Last weekend alone, the market was able to sell 95 pounds of blueberries. “We’re hoping the website sticks around when this is over,” says Haynes.

All orders placed between Monday at 4 pm and Wednesday at 9 pm will be fulfilled on the Saturday of the same week. Pick-up is Saturdays from 10 am to noon at Angel Oak Café (2004 6th Avenue West, Bradenton). Customers are encouraged to open their trunks and let the market associates load their purchases.

Photo Courtesy of Realize Bradenton.

For more on the Bradenton Farmer's Market.

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