Farmers who grow fruits and vegetables or who raise and have locally grown meat processed for sale tried out a new concept in marketing. Instead of going to a traditional farmers market, they sold goods through a virtual market. All arrangements between the buyer and seller happened online.
You can check out the virtual market at: www.hoosierharvestmarket.com.
Producers are listed in a producer section of the Website. During the season each seller can list what they have available at any point. Consumers then go to the Website and check out which producers are offering which products. They can choose who they want to buy from and what they want to buy.
Consumers have three days to place orders. By mid-week the grower is notified of orders for them. The grower prepares each order specifically for a customer. Then the grower delivers what's ordered to a pickup point so buyers can pick it up on a specific day.
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Tom Roney and his family operate Tuttle Orchards in Hancock County, raising both vegetables and fruit. They sell 90% of what they produce at their own market on the farm. However, Roney says that they did supply some produce for the virtual Web in 2013 when the food hub needed certain products.
"It has a lot of potential if they can get more consumers to participate," Roney says. "It's simple because you just prepare separate orders for each customer, maybe it's a dozen ears of corn for one and two watermelons for another, and deliver them. Your payment is automatically deposited in your account."
If the virtual hub is to spread, Roney believes there may need to be more drop-off points for either this hub or a similar one. "People from Carmel or the Geist area aren't going to drive to Greenfield to pick up fresh produce," he relates.