Farm Coop Switches to Online Sales

05/22/2020

Farmers pooled resources to build an online e-commerce site to sell their produce this year, and it’s turned out to be a boon during the pandemic. Just order what you want, and pick it up on Thursdays.

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WHOLE FOODS MARKET, MOVE OVER. THE SOUTHWEST FARM FRESH COOPERATIVE NOW OFFERS LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE, MEAT, EGGS AND OTHER LOCAL GOODIES ONLINE, AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO GET OUT OF YOUR CAR TO PICK IT UP. YOU'RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK, BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PAYROLL DEPARTMENT IN DURANGO AND BIG-O TIRES IN CORTEZ. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE. THE SOUTHWEST FARM FRESH CO-OP LAUNCHED ITS NEW ONLINE MARKET THIS SEASON, AND IT'S TIMING COULDN'T HAVE BEEN BETTER WITH THE ARRIVAL OF COVID-19 INFECTIONS IN THE REGION. FARMERS IN LA PLATA AND MONTEZUMA COUNTIES FORMED THE COOPERATIVE IN 2014 TO PURCHASE COMMERCIAL COLD-STORAGE EQUIPMENT AND A REFRIGERATO TRUCK TO EFFICIENTLY DELIVER PRODUCE EACH WEEK TO THEIR RESTAURANT AND COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE CUSTOMERS. IN THE C S A MODEL, CUSTOMERS PAY A SUBSCRIPTION FEE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE GROWING SEASON, AND THEY RECEIVE A SELECTION OF THEIR FARMER'S HARVEST EVERY WEEK OR SO. C S A CUSTOMERS DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THEY COULD EXPECT FROM WEEK TO WEEK BECAUSE FARMERS DETERMINED WHAT PRODUCE WOULD BE INCLUDED FROM THAT WEEK'S HARVEST. IN CONTRAST, THE ONLINE MARKET OFFERS CUSTOMERS MORE FREEDOM OF CHOICE, THEY CAN PAY ONLINE, AND THEIR FOOD IS DELIVERED EVERY THURSDAY AT A CENTRAL LOCATION.
WE'RE OFFERING A CENTRALIZED SHOPPING LOCATION BASICALLY FOR LOCAL FOOD IN LA PLATA AND MONTEZUMA COUNTIES. BYE SAID THE COOPERATIVE HAD PLANNED TO MOVE FROM THE C S A MODEL TO THE ONLINE MARKETPLACE THIS YEAR BEFORE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HIT SOUTHWEST COLORADO. BUT IT'S BEEN A BOON TO FARMERS WHO LOST THEIR RESTAURANT CUSTOMERS WHEN EATERIES CLOSED IN MARCH. THE ONLINE STORE ALLOWS FARMERS TO EXPAND THEIR CUSTOMER BASE TO INDIVIDUAL CONSUMERS WITHOUT THE EXPENSE OF MANAGING THEIR OWN ONLINE STORES OR SPENDING VALUABLE TIME AWAY FROM THEIR FARMS DELIVERING ORDERS.WE AGGREGATE PRODUCTS HERE AT THE WAREHOUSE FROM FARMS IN MONTEZUMA COUNTY, AND WE BRING PRODUCTS IN FROM THE PLATA COUNTY, AND WE SORT ALL OF OUR ONLINE ORDERS HERE AT THE WAREHOUSE AND WE DISTRIBUTE THEM BACK OUT TO A COUPLE OF PICKUP LOCATIONS WHERE PEOPLE COME AND GET THEIR ORDERS. AARON LEWIS AND HIS WIFE, DAKOTA, OPERATE TERRA SANA FARM ON SUMMIT MESA OUTSIDE OF MANCOS. THE NEW ONLINE MARKET HAS ALLOWED THEM TO DOUBLE THEIR PRODUCTION OF LEAFY GREENS, LEGUMES, ROOT CROPS AND OTHER VEGGIES THIS SEASON.
THE CO-OP HAS HELPED OUR FARM A LOT WITH MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTING PRODUCE. IT'S NICE THAT THEY HAVE THE INFRASTRUCTURE TO BE ABLE TO COLD-STORE VEGETABLES, BUT ALSO TO BE ABLE TO HAVE DELIVERY. THEY HAVE A COLD STORAGE TRUCK THAT THEY CAN DELIVER TO THE NEIGHBORING COUNTIES AND NEIGHBORING TOWNS, WHICH ALLOWS ME TO STAY ON FARM AND NOT HAVE TO TRAVEL AS MUCH AS I OTHERWISE WOULD. AND THEN TO HELP US DURING THIS THE TIME OF THE PANDEMIC NOW, HAVING A WEBSITE WOULD BE PRETTY EXPENSIVE WITH E-COMMERCE AND SUCH. SO, YEAH, THE CO-OP ALLOWS ALL THE MEMBER FARMERS TO SORT OF POOL RESOURCES AND BE ABLE TO SELL STUFF ONLINE WITHOUT EACH INDIVIDUAL FARM HAVING TO HAVE THEIR OWN WEBSITE AND DOING COMMERCE THAT THE CO-OP IS ALLOWED TO, TO HELP US IN THAT REGARD. AND THEN THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT ARE WANTING TO BUY ONLINE AND THEY'RE ABLE TO BUY THROUGH THE CO-OP'S WEBSITE, WHICH I THINK IS ALSO A LITTLE BIT SAFER THAN GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE.YOU CAN PLACE PRODUCE ORDERS ONLINE FROM 10 A.M. SUNDAY TO 8 P.M. MONDAY. THE LIMITED HOURS GIVE FARMERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO POST WHAT'S AVAILABLE THAT WEEK, THEN HARVEST TO ORDER. SELECTION INCLUDES INCLUDE VEGETABLES, MEATS, CHEESES, AND HOMEMADE PRODUCTS LIKE BREADS, SALAD DRESSINGS, JAMS, AND OTHER GOODIES. THE COOPERATIVE DELIVERS ORDERS FROM 4 TO 7 P.M. ON THURSDAYS IN DURANGO AT THE HARLEY DAVIDSON PARKING LOT ON CAMINO DEL RIO, AND IN CORTEZ AT THE SHARE HOUSE AT 30 NORTH BEECH STREET IN THE BACK PARKING LOT. JUST LINE UP IN YOUR CAR, AND CO-OP STAFF WILL PLACE THE FOOD IN YOUR VEHICLE FOR YOU. A MINIMUM ORDER OF 35 DOLLARS IS REQUIRED. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COOPERATIVE OR TO PLACE AN ORDER FOR THURSDAY DELIVERY, VISIT SOUTHWEST FARM FRESH DOT COM. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE FOR THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK.

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