By the time the humble spud or apple reaches your supermarket shelf from its trek from the farm, it could be up to three weeks old, due to storage times: days waiting for freighting in trucks, sitting in the open air at wholesale markets, transportation to distribution centres and then to individual supermarkets. Then, there is the shelf time waiting until the customer selects it, for purchase.
It doesn’t help the consumer or the farmer.
We have come to expect produce to be available year-round, but this comes at a cost in terms of nutritional content and quality. Some fruits that grow naturally in warmer/colder climates have been genetically modified to lengthen their growing season. In the 1970-‘s, a range of foods were genetically modified to ensure they had a longer shelf life or to make fresh crops more resistant to pesticide attack in the non-optimal growing months. Food quality has changed.
As we all know fresh is best, how can the fresh food supply chain be compressed, so that produce reaches us sooner and in better condition?
Alternatives to the Supermarket
A farmer-led online co-operative company called Food Connect was one way I sourced fresh produce sooner than the tired offerings at my supermarket. This company guaranteed to get fruit and veg to your point of collection from the farm within three days.
The range is limited to seasonal produce, (which is the way it should be), so the boxes had a set selection of products. Customized boxes cost the customer a lot more and were supply dependent.
But now there is another alternative.
What is REKO?
Reko is an online farmers market where the supply chain involves the farmer or producers selling directly to the customer with zero wastage and minimal delays in the transportation of goods.
This concept originated in Scandinavia, by a Finnish gentleman and has now grown to more than 500 local groups in Scandinavia, Canada and North America.
The reach and success of online farmers markets, such as the Reko model, have been made possible by technology. A positive is that Covid has helped this model flourish. Plus it supports your local growers!
The Reko model means more time available to farmers tend and develop farm animals/produce – a job that is always 7 days a week.
How Reko Online Farmers Markets work
Customers read the Reko Facebook group posts for their area, each week on social media to see what each farmer or supplier is offering.
If there is something that appeals, the customer orders by posting a comment, indicating the quantities they’d like, send through the payment via direct bank deposit, (ie no credit card fees), and collects the produce at the nominated time and pick up point. Voila!
Straight from the farm to your fridge all within 24 hours.
Reko offers more than just fruit and vegetables.
A home gardener who has excess produce may sell via the REKO group and if you are selling cakes or prepared meals, you must have a commercial-style kitchen. When we grew zucchinis in our home garden, we planted so many plants we could have fed an army, so REKO would have been a way to share our products and make a little money to be able to buy more seeds! If only it had been possible back then.
Advantages of Online Vegetable and Produce Ordering
- A way to stay Covid safe in a variant outbreak!
- Pick up from your car appeals too!
- Local growers supporting local community
- Hand made or home grown sold by person growing it
- A supply chain model that makes food or products available as fresh as is humanly possible
- Farmers get cash directly and there is no excess wastage of product
Less wastage = lower prices + a better environmental outcome.
Costs are reduced as farmers don’t need to spend time away from their farm, spending hours in the hot sun/cold rain setting up and sitting at an outdoor market, or selling to wholesale distributors, or fiddling with cash and change. There’s less wastage as they don’t take more product to sell than is required, as the grower in the youtube video explains.
Why is it different from a farmers market?
- No sitting out in the rain
- Farmers only harvest as much as has been ordered
- Less transport time and fossil fuel emissions
- No signage, change, Point of sale machine, tent or tables needed as pick up is direct from the farmers car boot or truck
- Farmer received the money directly – keeping costs down and cash flow is instant
- Supports local growers
- Minimal effort to source