Formerly held outside at SixTwelve community center from April-October, the Paseo Farmers market was started three years ago by Megan Sisco. This spring in the midst of Covid-19, Megan and market board members Jenna Moore, Angela Chase, and Alyssa Fisher quickly adapted the market to its current online website. We had plans to reopen the market in April for the season but in early March [when the first Covid cases hit OKC] we knew we needed to come up with a plan to still be able to provide local food to the community, help vendors to continue to sell their products and do it safely.” The team developed a system to keep it simple enough for even the most novice tech individuals to upload their inventory into the marketplace. Customers can now shop from a wide variety of local products all in one site, with one central checkout.
Moving the pick up site to Red Rooster, which is located about 3 blocks from the original location was strategic as well. “We built our menu around local farms and when we had to close our dining room we needed a place to sell so that we could continue supporting our local vendors, it was a perfect match.” Josh Gautreaux, Co-Owner of Red Rooster explains. In addition to providing a continued outlet of support for local producers, partnering with Red Rooster has also broadened the farmers market offerings by introducing a line of value-added products to the market including house chips, hamburger buns, ice cream and prepared meals to go.
On the site shoppers can find everything they need from staples such as milk, eggs, meat, produce to a wide variety of prepared foods from Red Rooster, Yummus, Flora Bodega, Holey Rollers and The Loaded Bowl. Non-food products include homemade soaps, flower bouquets, plants, candles, natural bug repellent, and homemade masks, as well as a bountiful variety of vegetable and flower plants to get your home garden started right.
A final note of success for the quickly evolving online farmers market is its ability to accept SNAP or EBT transactions. Customers who would like to purchase SNAP-eligible items can simply checkout on the site using the coupon code “SNAP” which will zero out their purchase until they come to pick up. At this point, the market will process their EBT card just as they would on a regular market day utilizing the same contact-free pickup.
Although the Paseo Farmers Market had not anticipated this online transformation, the dramatic increase in sales has forced the market leadership team to seriously consider continuing to offer the service, even once COVID-19 has abided. Many vendors are very satisfied with the increase in sales, and the ease of dropping off produce which allows them to spend more time in the field, growing fresh produce.
“The Paseo Online Farmers Market allows Cedar Spring Farms to reach customers that otherwise would not have access to open air markets due to time constraints, mobility or social distancing concerns. The continued good health of our employees remains paramount to providing safe vegetable and food production in an ever changing environment. Since the beginning of Cedar Spring Farms in August 1996, it has been our belief that produce purchased closest to the Source/Farm is the very best way to always maintain food safety, which is a top property for us,” Guy Gillespie, Farm Manager at Cedar Spring Farms, said.