Online Farmers Markets: From Dirt to Doorstep
Companies like Seasonal Roots offering a new option for farm-to-table produce and products
Karla Robinson used to consider herself the meat and potatoes type, but a passion for produce grew when the “veggie fairy” began making weekly visits to her front porch.
“I grew up in the Midwest and summer meant salads—of iceberg lettuce and flavorless tomatoes,” Robinson says of her once lackluster relationship with garden goodies. Then, a few years ago, she signed up for Seasonal Roots, an online farmers market featuring the farm-to-table products of more than 100 local purveyors.
“It has made our family eat so much better,” says Robinson, now the director of teams for the home delivery service focused on supporting sustainable agriculture. “We have tried and found things we’ve never had before. It’s really expanding our diet.”
Robinson says she loves knowing exactly where her food is coming from, as well as the convenience of the Seasonal Roots concept, and she’s not alone. Community-supported agriculture (CSAs) and co-ops saw an immense increase in business since the start of the pandemic, as consumers relied on online ordering and delivery.
Seasonal Roots Director of Marketing Leslie McCarey says membership in the Coastal Virginia area tripled during the pandemic and continues to thrive.
“We have received lots of feedback from customers saying they thought they were doing it temporarily, but they can’t leave us,” McCarey says. “They joined because of a serious situation but are staying because they like the variety, they love the freshness, and they notice the difference in the taste.”
Seasonal Roots started in the Richmond area in 2011 and has since expanded to serving members throughout Virginia. Weekly produce baskets in a variety of sizes are seasonal, sustainable and delivered directly to Coastal Virginia doorsteps on Thursdays. Basket choices vary each week based on the harvest schedules of your local suppliers.
Unlike a typical CSA that features produce from just one farm, online farmers market customers can customize their baskets or skip a week (or more) when necessary. Don’t like curly kale? Double up on asparagus instead.
Because so many Virginia farmers and artisans are involved, expanded options include a plethora of extras—pastries, plant proteins, meats and seafood, dips, dairy, novelty goods and more. From “Bury Me in Curry” aioli to bundles of bok choy, all products are local and pesticide-free. And, as Robinson points out, occasionally dirty and imperfect.
“Every once in a while, you might see a leaf with a little hole nibbled into it, but that’s proof we aren’t using pesticides,” she says. “It’s still edible even though we are sharing it with someone else.”
She adds that the variety of Seasonal Roots items breaks up the monotony of meal prep. In fact, this once veggie-resistant eater is now all about experimenting.
“What I love to do is to make a meal with only Seasonal Roots items,” says Robinson, who described her latest creation of seared sea scallops with a chamomile beurre blanc and a side of sautéed shitake mushrooms, broccoli and onion chives. “It’s such a fun challenge.”
“It’s very easy to incorporate and combine and mix it all up,” adds McCarey. “Go into the produce drawer and just use what you have. The more you eat well, the more you appreciate eating well and the more you eat well.”
No green thumb? No problem. Here are a few ways to experience local summer bounty at its best. For online farmers market-style options, with lots of customization, products and farms to pick from, try:
Seasonal Roots: SeasonalRoots.com
The Neighborhood Harvest: TheNeighborhoodHarvest.com