New online farmers' market launches in Waterloo and Guelph

A new web-based farmers' market has launched in Waterloo and Guelph, hoping to connect busy shoppers with a taste for local produce and small-scale farms.

"It's convenience — both on the part of the farmer and the consumer," says co-creator Melissa Assad

Deborah Malloy, Raine Okum and Melissa Assad have launched their new online farmers market, bringing together busy buyers with small-scale farmers from Waterloo Region and Wellington County. (Facebook)

A new web-based farmers' market has launched in Waterloo and Guelph, hoping to connect busy shoppers with a taste for local produce and small-scale farms.

"It's convenience — both on the part of the farmer and the consumer," says co-creator Melissa Assad. 

"It's not really the best use of  [a producer's] time to sit at a farmer's market, to be selling their produce," says Assad. "They don't have to leave their farms to be a part of it."

"It's also convenient for the customer. They can just go online and order whatever they want, in the quantities that they want instead of fighting their way through the farmer's market first thing in the morning to make sure they get their produce. They can order it ahead of time and we've got it ready for them." 

Assad says the project grew from the mind of her business partner, Raine Okum, who found herself going farm to farm to find local fresh food to feed her family. She started sharing the idea with friends and Assad says it grew from there. 

Customers sign up through their website, and every week get a list of the produce available that week. They have two days to make their order, which gets sent to farmers.

The produce is brought to Parkminster United Church in Waterloo for pickup on Tuesdays and Guelph's Kortright Presbyterian Church on Fridays. 

Small-scale farmer has no time for traditional markets 

Most of the farmers who supply The Sustainable Market don't sell at large farmers' markets like St. Jacobs Market. 

Chester Venhuizen runs a 4-acre organic fruit and vegetable farm on the outskirts of Kitchener. 

He says he just doesn't have the time to sit at a table and sell produce for an entire morning and afternoon every week. 

"Four acres is a lot of work to keep up with one person," said Venhuizen. "I'm still in the midst of planting right now, it is full time. It is 10-12 hours a day, out there in the field. And it's not mechanical planting, most of it's hand-planting."

"For me, it's a better fit," says Venhuizen. "I basically pick to order. So  I don't pick extra, I don't have as much waste. And I know exactly that what I pick is going to be sold."

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