MONTROSE – She's only been on the job for a month, but the Montrose Farmers Market's new marketing manager, Abbie Brewer, is already moving forward with an online market pilot program.
FORE Alliance, a resource efficiency organization, recently contracted with the Montrose Farmers Market to provide services that included its community energy coordinator, Brewer.
The two entities go well together, Brewer said in a recent interview with The Watch.
This year, the FORE Alliance set a goal to run and/or assist local programs that encourage commercial energy efficiency, local food consumption and resource conservation. And with that goal in mind, the FORE Alliance board saw an opportunity in the local farmers market.
"The discussion was how to help with economic development and reduce (the use of) fossil fuels in the area," Brewer said. "Locally produced foods are an important piece of that."
As the new face of the market, Brewer answers to the market's board, but resources from FORE Alliance assist her.
And one of Brewer’s first ideas — an online market — was recently approved by the market's board and is moving forward, she said. She hopes to kick off the program in late May to early June. Through the market's website, www.montrosefarmersmarket.com, people could place orders for products and pick those items up during Saturday's market hours.
The idea for a distribution network stems from efforts by the Valley Food Partnership to expand access to local foods – something Brewer has been a part of. She said starting the network out small with only the farmers market vendors should make it manageable until all the kinks are worked out, at which time the program could be expanded.
"There is a lot of work to begin this," Brewer said.
She's soliciting volunteers to help, mainly with organizing the food for pick up.
The way Brewer expects the program to work is that vendors will provide her with a list of products they have available each week. She'll update that information online and then open the market for only a few days to allow for ordering. When the online market closes, the orders will be sent to each vendor, who will then prepare the orders to be picked up at the Saturday market.
Brewer hopes this program will not only help vendors assure sales, but also bring people downtown and connect them with their local farmers.
"I'm also hoping that local restaurants latch onto this program," she said.
Other than the work ahead to launch the online market, Brewer said her new role will focus on networking and visibility.
She said she's encouraged by where the farmers market stands today, with vendors reporting an increase in sales last summer. The organization’s winter market also has seen success and will continue on the first and third Saturdays of every month until the summer market begins on May 12.