Province preparing to launch online portal to help local farmers sell their goods - InfoNews

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Province preparing to launch online portal to help local farmers sell their goods

FILE PHOTO - Nicole Rich, with Khun Khun Farm in Vernon, delights patrons at the Vernon Farmers' Market with locally picked strawberries.
March 27, 2020 - 9:36 AM

With farmers' markets across B.C. prevented from opening this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, the province, along with the association that represents the markets, is working on a high tech solution.

The Ministry of Agriculture and the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets have almost finished an online portal that will allow member markets to connect their local vendors with consumers, according to a media release. The 145 member markets across the province, including those in Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, will benefit.

"The critical importance and resiliency of local food and farmers has never been clearer than now, and B.C. farmers markets are an essential retail sales channel for British Columbians to access local food and sustain the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and food processors across our province," B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets executive director Heather O'Hara says in the release.

"Our member farmers markets continue to modify their operations to ensure the health and safety of customers, vendors and market organizers alike, and in further response to COVID-19, our new B.C. Farmers' Markets Online platform will offer a new shopping channel for the peak farmers market season this summer."

Since it is deemed important that farms continue to operate, the Ministry of Agriculture has designated $55,000 to offer financial assistance which will be given to participating markets to help move their business online.

"It's important to support your community and each other during this time of uncertainty, and a virtual shopping trip to a farmers market is an easy way to get the groceries on your list and to Buy B.C., while ensuring physical distancing measures are being followed," Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham says in the release.

"Moving farmers markets online will help ensure the health and safety of vendors and consumers, while still providing the same fresh and local food that families all over the province count on."

Once the farmers' markets platform goes online, it will be added to the B.C. Farmers' Market Trail website here.

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