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Purdue Extension: Expert Resources for COVID-19
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AGRICULTURE: A Guide to Alternative Delivery Systems for Local Producers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 12, 2020
Produce in a box

ARTICLE UPDATED: 05/12/2020

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts local food systems, local farmers and markets must adapt to ensure consumers can access fresh, nutritious food.

There are numerous ways that local producers can offer products to consumers while practicing social distancing, and farmers’ markets can make adjustments to minimize community spread of COVID-19.

But now is the time for you to consider alternative methods to find and connect with customers during a time of confusion and challenge.

This guide offers ideas and guidance on the following:

Any trade names provided do not constitute endorsements from Purdue Extension. They are included to bring clarity to the message.

In such a public setting, the Centers for Disease Control now recommend wearing cloth face coverings. For a guide on how to create your own cloth face coverings, visit the CDC website.

 

Social Media Marketing

If you aren’t already on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, establish a presence to connect with consumers. Once you’ve done so, you can use your social media outlets to:

 

Food Safety / Handling Standards

Along with adhering to best practices in food safety and food handling, you should undertake additional measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19: 

For additional precautions, consult:

 

On-Farm Pickups or Roadside Stands

On-farm pickups or roadside stands typically have less restrictive standards under county and state laws, although you should consult your local planning and zoning office to ensure you’re aware of restrictions/regulations.

You also must protect products from weather and minimize potential to spread COVID-19.

Purdue Extension also recommends that you:

 

Off-Farm Pickups or Pop-Up Stands

First, consult your county zoning and health departments. Some communities do not allow pop-up stands unless an area is zoned for commercial use or has a variance under consideration.

People may also express concern about increased traffic if your stand is in a residential area; make sure you establish ample communication with all site-adjacent residents and/or businesses.

You may also be required to obtain a temporary, fee-based food permit or peddler permit. It is critical to make sure that you abide by all applicable statutes of state code.

Purdue Extension also recommends that you:

 

On-Farm Market

If you have an on-farm market akin to a grocery store, Purdue Extension recommends:

If you’re considering an on-farm grocery, consult your county zoning and health departments to determine regulations and/or restrictions. Purdue Extension also recommends taking into account:

 

Online Orders

Online sales allow customers to purchase your products from their residence. (If insufficient broadband limits your capacity for online orders or marketing, set up service through telephone or text.)

Have a form for payment set up, and then explore online sales by:

You also must establish a delivery system through a coordinated drop-off point or pick-up at your farm.

Indiana has existing online-sales platforms to help you connect with customers, manage orders and coordinate delivery locations. However, they primarily serve the state’s urban areas.

Market Wagon is an online grocery store / farmers’ market that sells hundreds of locally produced goods from hubs of local producers across the Midwest. You can sign up as a vendor to sell in this space.

Hoosier Harvest Market (HHM) is a farmer-owned online farmer cooperative featuring locally grown and produced goods in central Indiana. Northern or southern Indiana producers may want to contact them to gauge how to start another regional cooperative or coordinate new HHM areas of operation.

 

Local Grocers & Co-Ops / Regional Distributors

Now is the time to connect with grocers, co-ops or distributors that may be interested in stocking and/or selling your products.

In addition to following all appropriate county and state laws, licensing and/or certifications, Purdue Extension recommends that you:

 

Authors

Amanda Mosiman, Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Purdue Extension – Warrick County

Amanda Baird, Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Purdue Extension – Tipton County Agriculture & Natural Resources

Tamara Benjamin, Assistant Program Leader and Diversified Agriculture Specialist – Purdue Extension

Bobbi Boos, Local Food Producer, Martin Hollow Farm, Lawrence County

Mike Record, Local Food Producer, New Ground Farm, Monroe County

Nathan Shoaf, Purdue Extension Urban Agriculture State Coordinator

Heather Tallman, Indiana Grown Program Director, Indiana State Department of Agriculture

Amy Thompson, Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Purdue Extension – Monroe County

 

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