To help support local farmers, nonprofit CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) has partnered with The FruitGuys, a veteran of home and office produce delivery, to launch Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Delivered for San Francisco Bay Area residents.
Operated by CUESA, San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is widely acclaimed for both the quality and diversity of its fresh farm products, and artisan and prepared foods. The market is renowned throughout the country as one of the top farmers' markets to visit, with nearly 40,000 consumers shopping the farmers' market each week.
However, this past year has been particularly hard on many small farms, which endured restaurant closures and reduced farmers' market foot traffic due to the pandemic. The new direct online sales channel will help farmers by supporting them as they evolve, diversify and cater to the way consumer shopping behavior has changed during this past year, specifically in regard to the acceleration of online grocery shopping, which isn't showing any signs of slowing down.
"Finding our path out of the pandemic in a way that builds stability for rural food producers and urban residents alike requires innovation and adaptation," said Christine Farren, executive director of CUESA. "We see the steep economic challenges California family farmers face, which is why we are developing new ways to support them. Farmers' markets remain critical to a resilient and equitable local food system, and partnering with The FruitGuys to bring Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Delivered to life was the logical next step in expanding the ways we connect our community with fresh, local food for the times when they are unable to support our farmers in person at the market."
All produce on the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Delivered website will be sourced from Ferry Plaza Farmers Market farms within California. The online market will be curated by CUESA, while fulfilment will be managed by The FruitGuys.
"When COVID hit, we, along with most other farm businesses, had to pivot," said third-generation farmer Sandi McGinnis of McGinnis Ranch, a diversified organic farm in Watsonville. "CUESA also pivoted very quickly and figured out the logistics to provide a safe way to still get fresh vegetables to people while helping out farms. We look forward to continuing this partnership with CUESA and The FruitGuys, with the same goal in mind."
"We are honored and excited to work with CUESA as we expand our services and offerings," said Chris Mittelstaedt, founder and CEO of The FruitGuys. "We've worked with a number of CUESA farmers for many years, and this delivery program expands our mission to support small farms and community- supported agriculture. We're also very excited to promote the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Delivered to our office clients as employees return to work in the Bay Area."
Based in San Francisco, The FruitGuys is a B Corporation that delivers farm-fresh fruit, produce and healthy snacks to businesses, schools and homes across the country.
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Delivered is an evolution of the former CUESA Farmers Market Box program that allowed curbside pickup of curated produce boxes from the market during the pandemic. CUESA sold close to 5,000 boxes and directed $175,000 to small farms and food businesses in the past year.