As businesses across the Commonwealth begin to plan for the gradual reopening of Virginia, Local Food Hub has received several questions about the future of our Drive-Through Markets.
Our purpose has always been to support Virginia farms, and connect the community to local food. We started these markets in response to the devastation small farms and food businesses faced due to the Stay at Home Executive Orders. We saw the infrastructure that connects local food to its community crumbling, and so we built new infrastructure. Our growers and producers rose to the occasion, nimbly adapting their operations in a way that is more difficult for commodity farmers.
Based on research and conversations with both vendors and customers, we believe the need still exists, and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. Even as things reopen, large swaths of the population remain at higher risk for contagion. Many customers have mentioned that they prefer the safety of a drive-through market format. Similarly, vendors have expressed doubts about their businesses ability to return to “normal” operations in the near future. Finally, with so much about COVID-19 still unknown, and the risks of outbreak ‘waves,’ we see value in maintaining a stable COVID-resilient infrastructure. In short, we don’t anticipate an end to these markets anytime soon. In fact, we are still working hard to expand offerings to ensure as well-rounded a shopping experience as possible.
This pandemic has clearly shown what we’ve always known – that local food systems are agile, resilient, and responsive. Since our markets began, they have fed hundreds of people in this community, reinvested almost 200K in the local economy, and provided a vital sales outlet for 20+ farms and businesses. We look forward to the day that these alternative markets are no longer necessary. Until that day comes, we remain committed.