Incorporating Online Ordering Systems to Increase Farmer Sales at Farmers’ Markets and Beyond

Project Overview

ONE20-368
Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2020: $15,698.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2021
Grant Recipient: CitySeed
Region: Northeast
State: Connecticut
Project Leader:

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Farm Business Management: farmers' markets/farm stands
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    CitySeed has put in place state-of-the-art software and electronic systems for Farmers Market management, streamlining systems for farmers to sell their produce and products at our network of Farmers Markets. With the COVID19 pandemic, however, we have identified the need to further adapt, creating an online ordering platform to ensure farmers can continue to participate in pre-order/pick-up Farmers Markets, connect to customers seeking fresh food, and grow their sales during the current crisis and beyond. This project will work to monitor and evaluate an online pre-order and pick-up system that CitySeed will roll out, tracking farmer sales and customer counts both during the current crisis, and outside of the crisis. Our goal is to build capacity among farmers in our network to connect with customers through online sales. We see this both as a solution in the current time of crisis, when social distancing is required for public safety and health, and a sustainable solution to increase farmer sales both on-farm and at our Farmers Markets during normal times. 

     

    Project objectives from proposal:

    In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this project seeks to pilot test an upgrade of our Farmers Market systems and process to implement an adapted Farmers Market model that incorporates all social distancing precautions, and creates a pre-order and pick-up option to increase farmer sales and ensure customers have safe access to local produce and products. Specifically, our project seeks to (1) research current software and technology for online ordering, and create a centralized online ordering platform for CitySeed Farmers Markets; (2) build capacity of farmers to install and use this new system; (3) adjust Farmers Market layout and on-the-ground systems and processes based on continued surveying of customers and vendors, as well as and input from partners at the City of New Haven; (4) facilitate farmer exchanges on streamlining packing and distribution processes, and other methods to increase sales during this challenging time; and (5) capture a new base of customers that are looking for efficient and safe ways to procure their produce and other grocery items, both during the pandemic and beyond.  If we are successful, we will aid in keeping approximately 30 Connecticut farms in operation during and after COVID-19. 

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.