How Southern Harvest used the Open Food Network to halve their workload during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Southern Harvest is a farmer- and member-led organisation that helps local farmers and producers to sell to the local community in the ACT and South East NSW. They’ve been operating since 2011, and are focused on getting fresh, local produce into the local community.
Operating for more than 11 years, Southern Harvest’s business model continues to evolve and includes:
- A Farmers Market every Saturday in Bungedore
- A produce box scheme where multiple producers contribute to a box that gets distributed to 150 subscribers
- An online farmers’ market
- An annual Harvest Festival and other seasonal events and farm tours.
They use the Open Food Network to manage their produce box scheme, and online farmers’ market. We spoke to Southern Harvest’s Ruth Gaha-Morris about what led them to start using the platform, and how it helped them to cope with unprecedented demand during COVID-19 lockdowns.
When their workload doubled, Southern Harvest turned to software to make their lives easier
The COVID-19 pandemic meant that many face-to-face farmers’ markets were forced to close, and as such, Southern Harvest saw a huge increase in demand.
“We had a lot more engagement with producers during the initial lockdowns with COVID, because they couldn’t access any of their regular farmers’ markets.
Our business jumped by 70% in those first three months of COVID, with people needing to access local food and producers needing to be able to get their food into the market somehow.”
This meant that their workload increased dramatically, which is why they started using the Open Food Network software platform.
“When COVID came along our workload tripled and Open Food Network was there. And it worked really well. It reduced our workload by more than half at a time when we really, really needed it.”
They now use the Open Food Network Platform as a way for customers to add additional produce (like milk and bread) to their produce boxes, and to hold an online farmers’ market.
Benefits of the Open Food Network Platform for Southern Harvest
- Provides an easy way for producers to manage their products online and are involved in how they are selling their products
- Can sell at different price levels to members vs general customers
- Great support
- It could be customised to meet the needs of Southern Harvest
The Open Food Network is an open-source software platform that enables farmers, producers and food hubs to sell their products online. You can find out more about the platform here.
Southern Harvest operate a farmers’ market, produce box scheme and online farmers’ market. Find out more about them on their website.
Top image: The team at Southern Harvest
Bottom image: The Harvest Festival ran by Southern Harvest
Both images supplied by Southern Harvest.
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