A Cleveland-based online farmer’s market, which reaches a strip of 12 counties in northeastern Ohio, has helped a Salem-area apple orchard deliver its product to consumers after the pandemic COVID-19 has closed its best client – school cafeterias.
Market Wagon recently took a milestone for the regional food community – $ 1 million in sales for the region’s farmers, chefs and artisans, according to a press release from the company.
But that revenue is more than just a number, especially for Woolf Farms in Columbiana County.
“For many family businesses, like Woolf Farms, it was the income that allowed them to thrive and in some cases not to shut down permanently when the pandemic changed the industry overnight,” said Dan Klein, Community Relations Manager for Market Wagon.
Woolf Farms, located along National Route 9 between Lisbon and Salem, had seen its market literally dry up when schools in the area closed due to the pandemic. Due to the closures, many school canteens did not need apples for student lunches.
âMarket Wagon was a lifeline for his business because otherwise his apples and other produce could just rot in the field because he had no way of getting them to customers (including a number of schools) when the pandemic has struck â Klein said.
HOME DELIVERED PRODUCTS
Market Wagon delivers products to every household in its Northeast Ohio market, which includes Warren and Youngstown.
The service allows customers to browse locally grown produce on their computers or smartphones throughout the week and place an order by Wednesday morning from multiple local suppliers with a single checkout.
âIt doesn’t matter where you live, whether you buy one item from one farmer or 100 items from 20 different farmers, the delivery charge is just $ 6.95. “ Klein said. “This means that farmers and food producers like Woolf Farms can bring their produce into the homes of over 3.5 million people in Northeast Ohio without having to pay high costs themselves.” prohibitive for shipping or delivery. Likewise, farmers and artisans set their own prices to make sure it is profitable for them.
Consumers can order from more than 75 of their favorite local farms and artisan food vendors in Northeast Ohio, who have more than 1,200 combo items for sale each week.
âCustomers don’t have to leave their homes because everything is delivered to their doorstep every Thursday afternoon in insulated bins using ice packs to preserve freshnessâ Klein said. “Residents can shop locally even in December, long after most physical farmer’s markets have closed for the season.”
By providing choice and service, people can know exactly where their food is coming from. The online store has everything you would expect to find in a physical farmer’s market: fresh eggs from the local farm, dairy products, meat, fresh produce, baked goods and more.
The insulated fabric bags used for food delivery, along with ice packs, can be reused over and over again, Klein said.
When Market Wagon opened its local distribution center in Bedford Heights in July 2020, Klein said food producers jumped at the opportunity to connect directly with consumers.
“A strong local supply chain provides an important solution to the lingering global supply chain problems exposed by the pandemic and perhaps once again accelerating with the omicron variant,” Klein said.
Other food producers in the region aided by the success of Market Wagon include:
â« Rowdy Cow Creamery (Geauga County) – Lad and Brenda Hastings are third generation dairy farmers who bottle milk and make cheese at a facility just steps from where the cows are milked. In addition to milk and chocolate milk, the Hastings sell a variety of cheese flavors, including bison ranch, chipotle, and dill.
â« Marie’s Patisserie of Tallmadge – Chef Marie Kostos uses the finest ingredients to create tasty dishes as well as decadent pastries. Choices include calzones, chicken parmigiana, and mac and cheese. For dessert, there is cheesecake and cannoli.
Farmer and tech entrepreneur Nick Carter partnered with logistics expert Dan Brunner to launch Market Wagon in 2016. Nationally, Market Wagon is now available in more than 35 markets in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.