Online farmers market flourishes in East Texas amid pandemic

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Shopping at a local farmers market by nature is a social activity. It’s an opportunity for customers to meet and support the people responsible for cultivating the food on their table.

In March, the spread of COVID-19 shuttered farmers markets across the country, including the Rose City Farmer’s Market in Tyler and the Historic Downtown Longview Market.

Red Moon Farm in Van Zandt County is a vendor for both of those farmers markets. Along with their community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, selling their organic produce at those markets is how they make their money.

Adapting quickly to change, Red Moon Farm, along with other East Texas vendors affected by the closures, joined forces to create an online farmers market.

Red Moon Farm Co-Owner, Jessica Bullock, says they had two goals in mind. They wanted to support local farmers during these tough times, and also support the needs of their community by providing safe access to healthy food during a pandemic.

Through the online market, local vendors provide everything from organic produce, eggs, and pasture-raised meat to honey, jams, freshly-baked pastries, and apothecary items.

“They’re able to access what they normally would have been able to receive through some of our area farmer’s markets that they can’t get right now,” says Bullock.

The online farmer’s market is open for orders on Wednesday and Thursday and makes deliveries every Saturday morning to three porch pick-up locations in Tyler.

The entire process is contact-free for customers, which Bullock says is extremely important right now, making customer safety their top priority.

“They need to trust that what they’re getting is not going to harm them,” explained Bullock.

From harvest to delivery, the farm’s four employees wear gloves and masks.

“When you’re buying from a local producer, you have many many fewer hands touching your food,” Bullock says, comparing a local farm experience to a conventional grocery store.

The food is also more healthful when it reaches the dinner table.

“The nutrient content is higher because it has traveled less distance. It’s fresher. It’s more ripe when you receive it,” Bullock says.

While eating food from local farms provides a healthful boost for the customer, it also gives a boost to the local economy.

“We have to all be in this together in order to come through this successfully, as successfully as possible, considering the daunting challenges of keeping a business alive through this pandemic,” Bullock says.

And it all starts with the simple and convenient choice to buy locally-grown food, creating a ripple effect that supports the well-being of East Texans, both physically and economically.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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