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Getting Alta. ag products to consumers

Getting Alta. ag products to consumers

Organic Box is working with local farmers to deliver food to customers

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

A partnership between two Alberta organizations is helping consumers access local food.

Open Farm Days, an ag tourism event that allows Albertans to visit participating farms, and Organic Box, an online grocer, are working together to help customers access local goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When customers visit Organic Box’s website, they can choose a meat box from ranches in northern or southern Alberta or a separate box filled with other local goods.

“It’s just like buying anything else online,” Geoff Milsom, operations manager at Organic Box, told Farms.com. “The customer makes their selections and enters their details and we deliver it to them.”

Participating farmers either leave the products out to be picked up or deliver them to a warehouse facility in Edmonton.

Once all the products are gathered in one location, the grocery boxes are assembled and sent out for delivery.

Early results indicate the project is working well, Milsom said.

“I can tell you we sold out in 24 hours,” he said. “There’s certainly a demand there and we’re going to continue to fill this need and maybe expand on it so we can support more local producers.”

Farmers are pleased to be able to continue serving their local communities.

Many of the farms, like Rock Ridge Dairy in Ponoka County, rely on sales to restaurants, caterers or farm-gate transactions for a bulk of their revenue.

But with those markets closed because of the pandemic, the home-delivery option provides a good alternative to help them stay afloat.

“It’s really important for us, as I’m sure it is for anyone in food production,” Cherylynn Bos, who farms at Rock Ridge Dairy with her husband Patrick, told Farms.com. “About 75 per cent of our cheese production was for restaurants and food distributors. All of a sudden you have that whole sector completely wiped out.”

One positive item coming out of the pandemic is the general conversation around local food.

More people have been calling Rock Ridge Dairy asking where they can get local products.

The coronavirus may serve as a way of highlighting the importance of local farmers since the food supply has been in the news cycle a lot recently, Bos said.

“I’ve had a lot more consumer interaction and questions about local food are definitely getting asked,” she said. “I hope that after this is all over, people realize that local food sources that are in their communities are vital to long-term sustainability in their food systems.”


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