This change could change the way you shop for local!
Most of us have probably enjoyed a trip to a local farmers’ market, wandering through the vendor booths and picking up fresh, local ingredients along the way. Well an innovative new idea at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market is now bringing the farmers’ market to you. Wolfville Farmers’ Market 2 Go (WFM2GO) is an online version of the real thing. It’s true, online shopping is pretty mainstream these days, but online shopping for a Farmers’ Market, well that’s a first in Atlantic Canada according to WFM2GO and Facilities Co-ordinator, Lindsay Clowes. We had a chance to sit down and chat with her about the new venture.
How did the idea come about?
“It started with our market manager Kelly Marie, who was looking at new ways to help our vendors sell their goods and grow their businesses. We were also interested in offering more convenience and increased access to healthy local food to members of the community. The idea of going online seemed promising.”
What’s it all about?
“WFM2GO is more than an online market. We view it as a new food distribution model that complements existing ways people shop for food and products. The biggest benefit is that the model benefits everyone in the food system – consumers, producers, the Wolfville Farmers’ Market and the community.”
You mentioned it benefits everyone in the food system. Can you tell me how?
“WFM2GO benefits consumers by offering convenience and flexibility. Now they can shop the market and have it come to them. It’s a weekly, year-round service, so people have access to an ever-changing variety of products as the seasons change. WFM2GO also covers a larger geographic area with deliveries from Berwick to Tantallon, so more people have access to great local food. WFM2GO also offers a number of payment methods, where the physical market runs on more of a cash-only basis."
“Our producers benefit because they now have a new channel to sell their products in.. At the Market, our farmers are on average 12 years younger than the national average. These are the people that are going to feed us now and down the road. Anything we can do to help them grow their businesses and become more sustainable will help create a stronger local economy and a stable and secure local food supply. It also helps grow our own self-reliance, becoming less dependent on food imported from other places”
“WFM2GO benefits community as well. We make access to nutritious and healthy local food easier and available to people that might not otherwise be able to get it. The WFM2GO model works through community food hubs run by volunteers. The hubs serve as pick-up spots for weekly food orders, but they also present opportunities to bring community members together and to present unique programs that meet the needs of their community. These programs could be healthy cooking classes, guest speakers, meet your local farmer events and much more. We want the hubs to take on a life of their own. Customer can also donate WFM2GO gift certificates as part of their orders and they are used by hub volunteers to buy and provide local food to families in need in their community.”
“And, there is also a benefit to the Wolfville Farmers’ Market. The project helps us diversify our operations and create a new income stream, making us more sustainable.”
Can you tell me how it works?
“Customers create an account and once they do, they can choose from around 200 products. They can order individual items, but many vendors also offer boxes that contain a variety of products. From there, you finalize your order, pay and then pick-up at your community delivery hub in Wolfville, Windsor, Canning, Berwick or Tantallon. Ordering is open from Wednesday – Monday. Orders are sent to farmers on Tuesday, brought to WFM on Wednesday and packed for delivery to the community hubs.”
Aren’t you worried about online shopping affecting your physical market business?
“We think the two complement each other vs. compete. The Farmers’ Market is a social place. People get the opportunity to meet, to interact with the producers directly, to taste and sample. It’s a different experience that can’t be replicated by WFM2GO. We love both models.”
How have things been so far?
“We’re still quite new. We launched in July, but since then, we’ve grown to more than 20 producers, around 200 different products and more than 100 customers have signed up. We’ve established hubs in five different communities so far.
What do you see in the future?
“We’re looking at expanding our customer base at our current hubs to help grow local! We want to be able to grow our hubs to support our WFM2Go producers and farmers. Using WFM2Go creates a new avenue for producers to become more sustainable. We would also like to add one or two more hubs in the Bedford, Halifax or Dartmouth area to reach customers in the city who might not make it to the Wolfville Farmers’ Market often.”
We’d like to thank Lindsay for her time and enthusiasm. Be sure to check out WFM2GO’s website for more!