As we enter the peak growing season with no signs of returning to normalcy, businesses have to get creative in how we get fresh farm products to the consumer. One of these creative models is to have restaurants and other essential businesses work with farms and food producers to act as pickup sites for farm fresh products. Customers gain access to fresh produce, eggs, meat, and flowers, while restaurants and food businesses get a boost in sales from folks who might not otherwise be placing a takeout order. Here are some tips and best practices for how to get started.
Connecting with farmers
There are several farmers who have expressed interest in partnering with local businesses to help get farm-fresh goods out into the community. If you are interested in connecting with a farmer, we can help with the match-making. You can also find these farmers through the following channels and connect with them directly:
Guidelines for pickup
It’s important to abide by the most recent guidelines for public health in order to ensure a safe outcome for everyone. These are some best practices based on health department guidelines and others selling in the community.
- Farmers are encouraged to provide one or more pre-bagged options for produce (Salad kit, spring veggies, herb bag, weekly produce box, flower bouquet)
- Sanitation & Safety:
- Frequently touched surfaces should be sanitized regularly (keypads, counters, etc)
- Employees should wear masks and gloves, and wash hands frequently
- Pickup sites should create visual cues for 6’ distancing in line (chalk lines, flags, cones, etc)
- Work with farmers to coordinate payment options
- Farmers can choose to sell through their own online platform
- You can also work with farmers to offer items through your sales platform
- If possible, have items prepaid to minimize interaction and exchanges
- If pre-payment won’t work, cash boxes and no-touch credit car payment (Venmo, entering CC info manually, Paypal, etc) is the next-best option
Marketing: Online and On-site
It’s crucial to let people know what you and farms are offering and spread the word far and wide. We’re here to help, but here are some basic guidelines for making this a success.
- Advertise pickup sites on all digital platforms (facebook, Instagram, website, newsletter)
- Coordinate with producers to cross-promote one another – they help drive business to you, and in turn you promote what they are offering
- Send info and links to Sustainable Connections to promote through our channels
- Tag farms in social media posts, and also tag @eatlocalfirst so they can be easily shared
- Update or create your profile on the Food Atlas – be sure to specify your category on the COVID-19 check boxes
- Consider creating physical signage to notify customers that local farm-fresh products are an option – sandwich boards, posters, or a simple printed sheet of paper are options