Taking Salmon Arm’s All Organic Farmers’ Market online has yielded unexpected results for organizer and Wild Flight Farm owner Hermann Bruns.
While the B.C. government has deemed farmers’ markets an essential service during the COVID-19 crisis, permitting them to continue under strict conditions, for public health and safety reasons the Bruns family opted to to transition to an online model, where people buy their goods in advance and then pick them up at the Salmon Arm market held 2:30 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Uptown Askew’s parking lot.
“It really redefines how to run a farmers market entirely,” said Bruns, explaining how, under normal conditions, farmers’ markets are a place where people gather, shop and socialize. To help deter that in support physical distancing guidelines, the Bruns are no longer setting up their market stand that would typically attract long lines of people seeking produce.
“We’re leaving the market stand at home and only setting up for order pickups. So that’s quite a major change for all of our customers,” said Bruns.
The transition has involved a “big learning curve” for Wild Flight Farms and its customers, said Bruns, but what’s been most interestin is how those customers have embraced the change.
“I thought, this is probably going to affect our sales; it’s all new and people will kind of not be willing to do it,” said Bruns. “And the opposite happened. Our sales were at least 50 per cent more than they were the previous year at the same time, and we were totally overwhelmed with orders.”
While other vendors continue to set up stands at the Wednesday market, they have also joined Wild Flight Farm in offering their products to purchase in advance through a Canadian-designed website called Local Line. Vendors on the All Organic Market page include Wild Flight Farm, Bastion Ranch, Inspired Breads, Crannog Ales, Enderberry Farm and Pure. Shoppers can load their virtual shopping cart with selections from one or each of the vendors, and then pay vendors individually when checking out.
“We were really fortunate in that we had been using this order platform for a couple of years for some of our wholesale and restaurant customers, and just this January we decided to create a public catalogue of all our products that will be available to all of our market customers,” explained Bruns. “We were just getting that going and suddenly this happened, so we were just at the right place at the right time.”