This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
By Pamela Curtis
I have heard Longmont described as: “A beautiful marriage between high-tech and farm country.” That has never been more apparent than now. The Boulder County Farmer's Market has gone virtual for the lockdown, called BCFM2Go (https://bcfm.localfoodmarketplace.com). An online store is not usually associated with farmer's markets, but these strange times call for even more innovative solutions.
One thing I have truly missed in this lockdown is browsing the farmer’s market as the first fruits come into harvest. The smells of fresh produce after a long winter is truly invigorating. Enjoying local strawberries, asparagus, baby lettuce and spinach are how I celebrate the arrival of spring. I can never pass up the local 100% raw local honey, and store-bought eggs can’t hold a candle to local free-range chicken eggs (the yolks stand up!).
I’m going to miss walking the isles, seeing all the different stalls, and talking with the owners. But while that isn’t possible for now, it’s truly a blessing to be able to still have access to locally raised and made products. Boulder County Farmer’s Market has 33 years of experience in running street markets and just four weeks of experience in running an online ordering and drive-through service, but the success of the new “To Go” part of the operation shows a true dedication that should be applauded. Because of the great response, online ordering will continue even once the markets open to serve customers who understand the value of buying from local producers but may not have the time or flexibility to attend the regular market.
Orders currently open Wednesday at 9:00 a.m and will move in the next couple of weeks to opening on Tuesday. BCFM2Go is currently focused on expanding drive-through service to Boulder. Pickups happen between 11:00 and 2:00. After they complete their order, customers are assigned a 30-minute time slot for pickup. Delivery service won’t start until late June or July.
Many farmers in the area have seen stronger demand for their products than would be typical this time of year. The virtual market and curbside service has been very popular. “It’s still early in the season, with limited product availability, and we are excited to see the response as the number of products online grows,” a spokesperson for BCFM2Go said.
“Shifting to this new model has had some major challenges such as learning how to ensure order accuracy and effectively schedule and manage traffic. Where we used to have three staff at the Longmont Market, we now have dozens of staff and volunteers to make this work. The good news is that we have passionate and dedicated staff and vendors, and we couldn’t ask more from our community of customers. They have been patient, supportive and encouraging. Working together is a weekly reminder to me of how amazing the farmers market community is.”
As for local producers on how this has affected their business and practices, the news is also good. “For the small to midsize farmers, like the market farmers, who sell directly to their communities, many have benefitted from the increased interest in locally-grown produce and products and were able to start selling in March, rather than waiting for the markets to open for their first sales. Larger producers who sell to grocery also appear to be holding their own.”
However, some local farms have been impacted. “The farms hardest hit so far are those who sold primarily to restaurants. Because it is still early season and harvests are limited, we haven’t yet seen farmers tilling under crops or dumping product, like has happened in other parts of the country.” That’s good news for the Colorado economy. “We are cautiously optimistic and expect that if markets open up to relatively normal levels in June, BCFM members should have a sustainable year.”
Sign up is at https://bcfm.localfoodmarketplace.com/Account/Register and information about individual vendors can be accessed through https://bcfm.localfoodmarketplace.com/Producers
Enjoy the farm-fresh food and products, my friends! With resources like these, Longmont truly is an amazing place to live.