Innovation Briefs

Focusing on collecting and disseminating easily digestible ideas, best practices, and readily adoptable approaches to COVID adaptation, these 1-2 page briefs are designed to be easily shared by LRFS stakeholders to support timely innovation.

Virtual CSA Fairs

ISSUE

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Fairs allow for people to interact with farms and , gain insight into the kinds of products that farms will offer in the coming year. CSAs allow farms to share the risk and benefits of growing food with consumers in the area. Fairs often feature tables or booths of farms, where customers can meet farmers and learn about the upcoming CSA season. With social distancing guidelines, many CSA Fairs were no longer possible this season.

INNOVATION

Several states were able to combine various CSA Fairs to create state-wide virtual CSA Fairs that featured farmers from around the region or state. In order to allow time and space for customers to get a similar experience as an in-person fair, virtual CSA Fairs featured meet-and-greets with farmers, social media posts highlighting various aspects of the farms, and opportunities for customers to ask questions about the availability of produce and other details about this year's CSA share from each farm.

OUTCOME

Organizers from each state reported positive impacts of the Virtual CSA Fairs and plan to move forward in the coming years with adaptations of the event. Significantly, organizers also explained the presence of first-time CSA customers. This creates the potential for a strong positive impact on local food systems. In addition, organizers reported positive feedback from farmers, who appreciated the time to potential benefit ratio of the online events, as compared to in-person CSA fairs

FRESHFARM’s Market Tracker:

Methods for Farmers Markets to Collect Sales Data

ISSUE

Market organizers and managers experience significant time and resource constraints. These constraints were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, where some markets were able to operate under strict guidelines that more time and resources to operating the markets. In this context, data collection may seem less significant. However, data collection is valuable in managing and advocating for the presence of farmer's markets

INNOVATION

Market Tracker is a Google Sheets database that FRESHFARM uses to collect sales data at the farmers markets that it manages. The database also creates other charts that enable FRESHFARM to evaluate the composition of vendors, available products, and currencies being used at its farmers markets.

OUTCOME

The Market Tracker improves accounting procedures, reduces the data collection burden for market staff, and enables information sharing among the farmers markets in their network. FRESHFARM’s aspirational goal is to offer Market Tracker as an open-source database to farmers market organizations across the United States.

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