Traditional farmers market goes digital to fund Brighton community projects

For some businesses, it has felt pretty natural to migrate online. However, for others the challenges brought by COVID-19 has required a complete rethink of logistics.

Florence Road Market, a traditional open-air farmers’ market run by One Church Brighton, has risen to the challenge. Taking the market online has made it possible to continue raising money for a range of social projects. In addition to the market, the organisation usually coordinates fundraising initiatives to cover social support projects the community needs.

Using Square’s Online Store, the team was able to move online and start taking deliveries in two days. By the third week, Florence Road Market was trading vegetables at six times its usual volume. The team has been delivering around 400 boxes of food each weekend with the help of 20 volunteers.

This has enabled the community market to keep fresh produce available and importantly, ensure that the market continues to raise funds for essential social projects for the city’s most vulnerable. The community focus has been incorporated into the market itself, as customers have the option to pre-order a box for the following week if they purchase a box for a low-income family. This can go a long way to help families who rely on resources like CHOMP which are no longer available due to social distancing. The fundraising mechanism is now also funding food and coffee boxes for people unemployed in the coffee industry, with the help of Pro Baristas.

When asked for tips for similar businesses looking to get online, Ben Szobody, Projects Development Manager for One Church said: “Look for a quick solution that can fill the gaps in your expertise. Square Online Store was crucial for us to get our delivery service up-and-running in the two days we had to make it happen. I don’t have the knowledge or the bandwidth to set up a website in such a short space of time. Having it ready to go has made a huge difference. It’s been an amazing thing for us to do and more than anything, it’s allowed us to keep our community connected, which has so many mental health ramifications.”

The team plans to keep the digital offering in place after the lockdown ends. With delivery, those who could not get to the physical market are now able to enjoy the fresh produce and community it creates.

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