AUBURN, Ind. (WFFT) - Less customers at farmers' markets means more changes for producers.
Tadd Petersen of Narrow Road Farm in Auburn says farmers have seen a rough 30% plunge in sales this year because of COVID-19.
“Because of the pandemic, people are less prone to going into public spaces such as farmer's markets,” said Petersen.
Petersen and his staff responded with an online farmers' market where people can visit their website while they also distribute produce around greater Fort Wayne and transitioned to home deliveries in the last two weeks.
"Home delivery and those kinds of options are important for farmers to think about as we’re navigating these interesting times,” said Petersen.
Ken Zimmerman of Fruited Plain Seeds in Craigville says his sales have increased over the past couple of months, but only because customers have rushed to purchase meat in large quantities.
Zimmerman says this has forced him to specify how much customers are allowed to buy so he won't run out of supply since livestock orders aren't as readily available like they were prior to the virus.
“If somebody wants a large amount there’s no way to accommodate them now without sacrificing your regular sales,” said Zimmerman.
Mikkal Hodge of Hodge Family Farm in Alexandria agrees that sales have plummeted.
But he says transitioning to a virtual farmers' market called Market Wagon in the last month and a half has been a saving grace for his farm.
"It was a little slow the first couple of weeks but the last three or four weeks we’ve done very well with the produce that we have,” said Hodge.
Both Hodge and Petersen say farmers have struggled with maintaining their ripened crops since they've had to throw much of them away due to a decline in customer purchase.
Petersen says farmers just want to serve their customers the best product and keep them healthy.
He says, “Particularly if we move into a space where there’s food shortages or just like we’ve seen this year with meat processing plants and things of that nature. Buying direct from a farm is really the best option to ensure your family is food secure.”