- Courtesy Of Cassie Morse/northfield Farmers Market
- Customers at the Northfield Farmers Market in summer 2020
Customers of the Northfield Farmers Market won't be able to wander from vendor to vendor this winter, but they will be able to browse the wares on their phones. Because its usual cold-weather location, the Plumley Armory at Norwich University, is closed to outside visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, the market has set up a one-stop shop online.
The web store, which will launch on Sunday, December 13, gives customers a single site on which to place weekly orders from each of the small-town market's vendors, market manager Cassie Morse told Seven Days. The market will aggregate the orders and have them ready for pickup at gallery Art, etc. on the town common from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. each Thursday; home delivery is also available in Northfield for a $5 fee.
"After looking at all the options, we decided that going 100 percent online with preorder and pickup is the safest way," Morse said. "This will let us maintain access to fresh, local goods while keeping interactions to a minimum."
The store will feature at least a dozen of the winter market's usual 18 to 20 vendors. Customers can shop by category or vendor and choose from multiple payment options, including using 3SquaresVT benefits. The online store is operated through Eat From Farms, a platform developed specifically for farms and farmers markets by upstate New York-based George Duggan.
With support from a Vermont COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program grant, the market has been able to set up the new website while keeping the full-season vendor fee at $60.
"It's not the mellow winter season we were expecting, but it's exciting," Morse said. She asked customers to be patient as things get rolling. "It may look like a fancy-schmancy online store, but it's a learning experience. We're not coders; we're farmers. But COVID-19 has dragged farmers markets into the 21st century."