By Stasia Greenewalt, Director of Grower Services
When we launched our Drive Through markets in response to the covid 19 pandemic, I thought it would meet a brief, intense need that had suddenly arisen and would soon resolve. Now, almost 2 years later, and with the market ongoing, I’ve been reflecting on why the preorder market model still works so well for our vendors.
Close your eyes and think of a beautiful farmers market display: fruits and veggies galore and maybe some flowers. This is what we as customers crave to see. Now, think of a line of neatly organized paper bags labeled with customers names filling a table. Not quite as beautiful, right? Oh, but to the farmer it is! With a pre-order market, farmers, know their sales the day before, and can harvest and prepare product based on items they already sold. They can leave the extra in the ground or in the cooler at the farm, deliver to their customers exactly what they ordered, and drive away with an empty truck.
An empty truck after market is the favorite vision for the farmer. Why? Well, as customers we may not think of what happens after a traditional walk up market. After waking up early to pack up, get to market, and set up a beautiful display (which I love, don’t get me wrong!), they then have to pack up the remaining unsold product, get it back to the farm, unpack it, figure out what to do with it- what (if anything) can be held, what gets composted vs. what gets donated (and of what’s donated, when will the farmer go donate it?). At this point we are looking at a very tired farmer with product they invested time and money into but can no longer sell.
Going back to that empty truck- an empty truck represents efficiency, no wasted product, and options! Farmers can send an employee to the market and then straight home, saving a trip back to the farm. Or the farmer can come themselves, stay in town to see a friend, run an errand, or even stick around for a market happy hour since there is no product at risk in the truck. Since there is no beautiful display to set up, and preorder markets are more efficient, the farmer saves valuable time. These are a few reasons why the vendors love the pre-order model and our market continues to be of value to them despite a return to normal shopping options.