Today we honor a farmer who created an online marketplace to sell the foods the pandemic had left her and other local producers unable to typically sell at summer farmers’ markets.
Katie Belle Miller, owner of Heritage Belle Farms, launched SOCO’s Virtual Farmers’ Market (Southern Colorado) in April 2020. At first, she just sold her farm’s food on the website, but the market faltered. is rapidly expanding to include 80 vendors by the end of 2020. Customers can now shop an online collection of fresh food and artisan products made by local businesses all year round. Orders can be picked up curbside or home delivered for a fee.
Two years ago she said: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic was straining grocery store shelves and people were calling me and my neighbors for eggs, chicken and beef . I thought having a way to get food online would be a way to connect them to family farms and other local businesses.
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It worked and is still a viable method of getting local produce. There are currently approximately 60 participating providers. Orders are picked up or delivered twice a month.
“We learned growing up,” Belle Miller said. “We have simplified information on how to place an order and information on our pickup locations.”
Belle Miller applied to the Colorado Department of Agriculture for a grant that would help expand the market through more collection points, possibly even in the Denver area. She hoped to know by April 1 whether her market had been selected, but “the CDA still hasn’t finalized its list of recipients,” she said. “We tried a lot of different things on a shoestring budget. I continue to give my time and try to make SOCO known.
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To get started, new customers or suppliers can visit svfm.localfoodmarketplace.com to register and shop. Online sellers set the price of their own products, so prices vary from producer to producer. For example, you might find a dozen eggs from one farm for $6 and another for $3.50. You can choose the producer and the product that meets your needs.
“It all depends on what the farmer has invested in things like livestock feed and other things needed to grow or produce his goods to determine the prices he sets,” Belle Miller said.
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A few items for sale recently included chicken, beef, lamb, bacon, eggs, honey, fresh greens, mushrooms, potted flowers, and bone broth. No registration is required to view the products offered, but it is necessary to view prices and place orders.
Orders can be delivered throughout El Paso County and East Teller County. Or you can pick up orders at Ranch Foods Direct Warehouse, 4635 Town Center Drive, and Buckley’s Homestead Supply, 701 W. Colorado Ave.
See website for more details.
contact the author: 636-0271.
contact the author: 636-0271.