U.P.’s largest Farmers Market to launch online marketplace bringing local food online for customers to purchase directly from farms
MARQUETTE, MI: The Downtown Marquette Farmers Market (DMFM) is a go for the 2020 season. Earlier this week, the Marquette Downtown Development Authority (MDDA) Farmers Market Committee approved the recommendation to begin the season exclusively with an online market. Initiating a physical market will be assessed later in the season.
“We surveyed our vendors and customers and discovered that while both are supportive of a physical farmers market, both also support the idea of an online market. Only 30% of our vendors are selling their products online currently, but 80% indicated they would like to sell their products online,” reported DMFM Market Manager, Sara Johnson.
This is a transition many markets across the country are exploring. During a global pandemic with social distancing and other precautions in place, farmers markets are being challenged about the best and safest way to proceed.
“A physical market would only allow for a third of our vendors to participate. We would also have to limit the number of customers allowed in the market at a time. There’s also restrictions on what types of vendors are allowed. All of these factors, combined with public safety concerns, guided us towards exploring an online market,” said Johnson.
The MDDA, who sponsors the DMFM, plans to launch the online marketplace by mid-May. The marketplace offers the ability to connect local farms with customers, allowing customers to make a single purchase that includes multiple producers easily, all in one place. Only essential products will be available for purchase initially. This includes food, personal hygiene products and pet food/treats. Customers will be allowed to place pre-orders from the online marketplace and pay online. Orders will be available for pick-up at the Marquette Commons Saturday mornings, where the farmers market is usually held. Food assistance programs including SNAP, the newly rolled out P-EBT program, Double Up Food Bucks, Project Fresh WIC and Senior Market Fresh will continue to be accepted. Customers who use these benefits will be able to place pre-orders online and pay in person at pick-up with their benefits. More information about accepted food assistance programs and how to utilize them is available on the DMFM website.
The Downtown Marquette Farmers Market will partner with Taste the Local Difference (TLD) and Local Food Marketplace (LFM) to launch its online market. LFM is a robust, flexible sales and distribution software that has served farms, food hubs and markets for 11 years. They have over 5,000 users across the country and Canada.
“We typically onboard 50 new clients a year,” stated Amy McCann, CEO of LFM. “By March of this year we had already onboarded 60 with inquiries still coming in.”
By bringing local food online for customers to purchase directly from farms, the DMFM is helping to play a critical role in the Upper Peninsula’s local food system.
“This investment by the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market supports really important needs in the present moment to ensure that local farms have a market for their fresh produce and community members can access that food in a safe and healthy environment. What’s also exciting is the longstanding opportunity this makes in the future too, to help build the demand for local food and make access more convenient than ever,” said Tricia Phelps, CEO of TLD, a Michigan based marketing agency specializing in the promotion and education of local food.
For up to date information about the DMFM online marketplace please visit www.mqtfarmersmarket.com, follow on instagram @mqtfarmersmarket or on facebook www.facebook.com/mqtfarmersmarket.
For more information about the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market, please contact Sara Johnson, Market Manager at (906) 362-3276 or firstname.lastname@example.org