Back to Newsfeed

ACORN’s Innovative Online Farmers’ Market Launches

http://www.acornvt.org/onlinemarket

MIDDLEBURY, VT –  ACORN launched its online farmers’ market with curbside delivery last week with nearly 100 orders placed with 20 local food and plant vendors in this new virtual market. The biggest surprise of the week was how well the market met the immediate needs of one of the area’s local high schools.

Kelley Mills, Sustainable Agriculture Instructor and Dean of Students at Hannaford Career Center, was worried about how social distancing would impact the Career Center’s annual fundraiser with the Garden Patch, the greenhouse project that is essential to the Sustainable Agriculture class. Before schools were shut down for the pandemic, Sustainable Ag students planted hundreds of herb and flower seeds that would be sold as seedlings and potted plants, as they do every year for an annual fundraiser for the class. Once social distancing measures were in place, the plants were ready to find their new homes, but traffic to the school was minimal.

When ACORN reached out to ask about staging Middlebury’s curbside delivery at the Career Center, everything clicked into place.

Upon joining the online market, the Garden Patch had an incredibly successful first week, selling out more than half of their greenhouse inventory of plant starts and hanging baskets. As of Tuesday, May 5, they sold $3,900 through the Online Farmers’ Market.

"Cheryl (the Plant and Animal Science Instructor), the agriculture students, and I are very pleased with the format of the ACORN Farmers’ Market, along with customer response to our products,” says Kelley. Students are able to return to the school on an individual basis to help pack-up the orders and volunteer for curbside delivery, following the whole sales process through to its final stages.

“It’s ironic, as an advocate for strong local economies and businesses, I never dreamt I’d be encouraging folks to buy anything online, let alone food! But this seems to be a great fix for our current situation,” says ACORN’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Lindsey Berk. “We are excited to be able to provide this service at no cost to the farmers or customers.”

One obstacle that has arisen, however, is that of the gap between farmers who are digitally savvy and those who don’t have the technical skills to move their businesses online. To bring all farms to the same level, ACORN has begun an appeal for funds to help build out vendors’ digital infrastructure to better connect the local food economy and broaden distribution efforts.

ACORN received a grant from Middlebury College’s New Perennials Project to get this campaign rolling and is participating in the new #GivingTuesdayNow global day of giving  which launched Tuesday, May 5.

To support ACORN’s efforts, visit www.acornvt.org/donate.

About the Online Farmers’ Market

ACORN created this digital space to connect people directly to local food producers at two weekly distribution sites, one in Bristol and one in Middlebury:

  • Tandem, 26 Main St, Bristol on Wednesdays 4PM-6PM

  • Hannaford Career Center, 51 Charles Ave., Middlebury on Thursdays 10AM -12PM

Vendors currently participating include: 

  • Agricola Farm

  • Blue Ledge Farm

  • Bridport Creamery

  • Charlotte Berry Farm

  • Cream Hill Stock Farm

  • Farmhouse Chocolates

  • Fox Glove Farm

  • Hannaford Career Center’s “Garden Patch” 

  • Ice House Farm

  • Last Resort Farm

  • Little Hogback Farm

  • New Leaf Organics

  • Orb Weaver Creamery

  • Pin Up Pickles

  • savouré sodas and foods

  • Scuttleship Farm

  • Solar Haven Farm

  • Werner Tree Farm

  • Vermont Vinegars

  • V Smiley Preserves

More farms plan to participate as the growing season progresses and ACORN will continue to update its website accordingly.

ACORN’s interactive online map that lists all of the Champlain Valley farms that sell food locally and is organized by food category can be found at http://www.acornvt.org/onlinemap and the online market can be found at http://www.acornvt.org/onlinemarket

Farmers who don’t have an e-commerce site and who would like to be part of ACORN’s new virtual farmers’ market platform should contact ACORN’s Lindsey Berk at Lindsey@acornvt.org.

###

ACORN (Addison County Relocalization Network) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community organization based in Middlebury, VT whose mission is to promote the growth and health of local food and agriculture in Vermont’s southern Champlain Valley. We are working with growers, schools, businesses and community and statewide partners to double the consumption of locally-grown food by 2020. For more information, go to http://acornvt.org/.