A north-east woman is launching an online one-stop weekly farmers’ market supporting local producers during the coronavirus crisis.
The first of its kind in the region, the North East Food Hub will offer customers the opportunity to buy goods from a wide range of local food and drink firms in one shop, all at the click of a button.
The virtual farmers’ market, or “local supermarket” as founder Ellie Sinclair refers to it, will stock everything from fresh meat, dairy, vegetables, vegan items, dried fruits, confectionary, ready meals, soft drinks and basic household goods.
Currently recruiting firms to add their products to the site, Ellie, who is the owner of Aberdeenshire sauce firm VegCo, decided it was crucial to launch the business as soon as possible due to the restrictions firms are facing on delivery and food service.
She said: “I’ve pulled the launch forward quite a bit to try to help out as many local businesses as possible. I wanted to provide a platform where producers can sell their products to their customers to help both the producer and the community.
“There’s nothing really like it up here. The Great British Food Hub, where the hub will be hosted on, is more centred around Glasgow and London.
“Initially I was going to start it with a click-and-collect service from weekly designated collection points across the north-east, but I’ve had to change a lot of the business model to make it work now because of the coronavirus and social distancing.
“Everyone’s movements are restricted at the minute so we are just providing delivery only for the time being.”
More than 50 producers including Cambus O’May, The Bread Maker, Rora Dairy, Big Beefy’s Biltong, Invercamey Dairy, Aberdeenshire Highland Beef, Kilted Coffee, Mike’s Pizza and Louise’s Farm Kitchen have already signed up to the project.
The market will open to customers every week and they will have until Sunday at midnight – when sales close – to place their orders.
A report will then be generated and sent to each producer, giving them until 4pm on Tuesday to get their products to Ellie’s family farm near Ellon.
She will then compile all the orders and deliver them from Wednesday to Friday.
Ellie added: “The online market will be weekly and will allow plenty of time for customers to place their orders.
“We want to provide a platform that hosts a whole load of food and drink goods as well as home goods like eco soaps, washing liquids and more.
“Bare, a zero-waste shop in Ellon, will be selling these sorts of good online, as well as dried fruits, nuts and pastas.
“It’s really simple and the customer will get their order with all their shopping in it delivered directly to their doorstep. We will of course be doing all deliveries contactless to ensure the safety of both the customer and staff.
“It’s not how I’d originally planned it but it’s our way of doing our bit for the local community and supporting local people.”
In future, designated click-and-collect areas will include independent stores and other businesses, however, these will be confirmed once government restrictions are lifted.
For more information, or to view the hub, visit thegreatbritish foodhub.com/hubs/aberdeen- shires-food-hub