Before the pandemic, farmers markets were a meeting place for area residents to spend a weekend morning perusing offerings of locally produced wares, while striking up conversations with neighbouring farmers about the origins of their food.
But in a year marked by COVID-19 restrictions stifling the typical market-going bustle, some farmers are distancing themselves from the tradition of physical markets in favour of doing business online.
“That’s still the way we’re thinking,” said Juliet Orazietti, who raises livestock at Linc Farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake with her husband, Martin Weber.
Orazietti said direct-to-customer sales have increased by 40 per cent this year without farmers markets.
The markets are time-consuming, unpredictable and can have high costs associated with table space, she said.
Orders received online are more consistent at a time when Orazietti is finding people don’t want to leave their homes and deliveries are easily orchestrated on weekly delivery routes. Linc now conducts all of its business online.
Despite the change in mindset brought on by the pandemic, Orazietti emphasizes they couldn’t have gotten their start without the farmers markets and says the diminished communication between the public and farmers due to pandemic restrictions is unfortunate.
For Orazietti, the face-to-face interaction is integral to the market experience.