Shop the Farmers Market From Your Couch
Market Wagon, an Indiana-based startup founded in 2016 to help farmers and artisanal food vendors get more products to local customers, has announced the expansion of its services to the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. Currently, the platform offers more than 185 local products to choose from—meats, dairy products, produce, even pre-made gluten-free chocolate pies— and allows customers to browse locally produced goods online and place orders from multiple vendors in one transaction. Orders are then delivered to customers’ doorsteps each Tuesday afternoon in insulated tote bags.
Founded by Nick Carter, who grew up on a farm in North Central Indiana, Market Wagon hopes to “restore the connection between consumers and the farmers and artisans who produce their food.” To further encourage that relationship, Market Wagon’s website is navigated much like a social media feed, where consumers can follow and endorse vendors, invite friends, and interact with them. Vendors can post recipes and messages for their followers.
“We built an entire community around like-minded individuals who are shopping local food together,” Carter says. “Local food is inherently a social process.”
Pam Benike, owner of Elgin-based Prairie Hollow Farm, previously had to send out emails announcing sales and sending customers to a separate site to order.
“Market Wagon’s platform is something that has been talked about as sort of a wish list item for a lot of the food vendors in the area,” Benike says. “We talked about how we needed to have one place where people could access all the products and then have one place that could be a collection point and one source doing deliveries—especially in the midst of Covid.”
Urban Greens, a Columbia Heights indoor hydroponic herb farm, now sells most of its products in local grocery stores, says co-founder Andrew Rescorla, but they miss selling direct to consumer. “One of our goals when we started Urban Greens was to be a part of the local community and economy and this seems to be a vibrant way to do that where we’re selling directly to our customers,” Rescorla says. “Although we transitioned to wholesale, we see [using the Market Wagon platform] as a way to get back to our roots and get back to direct to consumer approach. It gives us the benefits of farmers markets without having to set up a stand at 6 a.m. in a parking lot somewhere.”
According to Forbes, 81 percent of Americans had never bought groceries online prior to the pandemic. Today, nearly 79 percent order online. Market Wagon says it is ready.
“We were uniquely positioned to serve farmers, which was needed as farmers markets shut down, the restaurants that they sold to shut down,” Market Wagon’s Carter says.
Founder Eric Klein of Elgin-based Hidden Stream Farm thinks Market Wagon will give local food producers an edge over commercial distributors.
Market Wagon’s services are now available Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsay, Scott, and Washington counties. It’s also available in 35 markets across 18 other states, partnering with more than 2,500 farmers and artisans and serving more than 45,000 customers nationwide.
Carter says that moving forward, Market Wagon will focus on adding more local farmers and producers to their current networks to deepen local supply rather than continue to expand geographically. It is also rebuilding its mobile app to make it more user-friendly.
Businesses that wish to partner with Market Wagon can apply through its online application.