LOCAL FARMBAG has been a successful business delivering fresh, locally-sourced produce, meat, and dairy to area homes for a decade.
But they’ve never experienced demand anything like this before.
“Our demand for eggs has quintupled. We have straight doubled the amount of our deliveries. We’re trying to catch up,” co-owner Erik Lyons tells us during a brief moment of downtime.
While Lyons of course acknowledges the serious and tragic nature of the pandemic that led to this increased demand for no-contact home delivery, he says it’s not like they were waiting around for something bad to happen.
“We’ve been doing this for ten years — we’re not exactly new to this,” he says.
Local Farmbag works like this: You go to their website, fill out a form to join, see what is on offer that week — maybe making a few add-ons such as bacon or coffee — pay for your order, and they bring it to you on the set delivery day for the week.
One of their vans comes to your home, and the driver leaves the Farmbag order on your porch.
That’s it. No contact, nothing changes hands.
Farmbags range from the $19 “Mini Bag” — four items, farmer’s choice — up to the $52 Large Bag, with a whopping 25 pounds of produce.
That’s a lot of produce, folks.
But these days, what people want most are eggs — which means Local Farmbag has had to dig extra deep into its list of area providers to meet demand.
“Meat is in high demand, but we’ve got plenty of meat. Eggs are harder to find,” Lyons says.
The fresh meat supply is generally from local farms Hunter Cattle and Savannah River Farms, which Local Farmbag has a long relationship with.
A particularly interesting partner is Green Spork.
“They bake that special gluten-free bread,” Lyons says. “She can’t make it fast enough.”
Other key partners include Thrive Cafe, PERC Coffee, Greenbridge Farms, and Southern Swiss Dairy, among many other regional farms.
Lyons says a recent initiative to offer half-off Farmbags to local healthcare workers has been a massive success.
“We’re offering 50 percent off all healthcare workers through April and that’s been huge. We’ve gotten so many nurses and doctors who signed up almost right away,” Lyons says.
There’s a plan in the works to perhaps offer something similar to service workers.
All new customers who sign up through April will get 15 percent off, he says.
Local Farmbag began in December 2009, when the farmer’s market at Trustees’ Garden went on hiatus, and “we felt the need to continue connecting customers with our local farmers, but in a year round, more convenient way,” their website says.
As you’d expect, Local Farmbag has indeed needed to hire more staff to keep up with all the new demand. They were able to pick up some laid-off local service workers “right away,” Lyons says, “so I think we’re OK on staff right now.”
At this point, Lyons is unsure if they will need another delivery vehicle to meet increased demand, or will just add an extra delivery day to the weekly schedule.
While Local Farmbag’s business model didn’t need much tweaking to conform to social distance protocol, they did change a couple of things.
“We aren’t delivering to businesses anymore, and we don’t accept cash or checks anymore,” Lyons says. “We moved everything to cards.”