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Market Wagon offers fresh food online with delivery

An online farmers market based in the Cleveland area, which reaches a 12-county swath of northeast Ohio, has helped a Salem-area apple orchard get its product to consumers after the COVID-19 pandemic closed off its best customer — school cafeterias.

Market Wagon recently achieved a milestone for the regional food community — $1 million in sales for the farmers, chefs and artisans in the region, according to a company news release.

But that sales figure represents far more than a number, especially to Woolf Farms of Columbiana County.

“For many family-owned businesses, like Woolf Farms, it’s been the revenue that has allowed them to thrive and, in some cases, not permanently close when the pandemic changed the industry overnight,” said Dan Klein, community relations manager of Market Wagon.

Woolf Farms, located along state Route 9 between Lisbon and Salem, had seen its market literally dry up when schools in the area closed because of the pandemic. Because of the closures, many school cafeterias did not need apples for student lunches.

“Market Wagon was a lifesaver for his business because otherwise his apples and other produce may have just rotted in the field because he had no way to get them to customers (including a number of schools) when the pandemic hit,” Klein said.

PRODUCTS HOME DELIVERED

Market Wagon delivers products to every home in its northeast Ohio market, which includes Warren and Youngstown.

The service allows customers to browse locally grown products on their computer or smartphone throughout the week and place an order by Wednesday morning from multiple local vendors with one single checkout.

“No matter where you live, no matter whether you buy one item from one farmer or 100 items from 20 different farmers, the delivery fee is just a flat $6.95,” Klein said. “That means that farmers and food producers like Woolf Farms can get their products inside the homes of 3.5-plus-million people in Northeast Ohio without having to pay for expensive / prohibitive costs for shipping or delivery themselves. Likewise the farmers and artisans set their own prices to make sure it’s profitable for them.”

Consumers can order from more than 75 of their favorite local farms and artisanal food vendors in Northeast Ohio who offer a combined 1,200-plus items for sale each week.

“Customers don’t have to leave their homes because everything is delivered to their door every Thursday afternoon in insulated totes using ice packs to preserve freshness,” Klein said. “Residents can enjoy shopping locally even in December, long after most physical farmers markets have closed for the season.”

By providing choice and service, people can know exactly where their food comes from. The online store contains everything you’d expect to find at a physical farmers market — local farm-fresh eggs, dairy, meat, produce, baked goods and more.

The insulated cloth bags used in the delivery of the food, along with ice packs, can be reused over and over again, Klein said..

When Market Wagon opened its local distribution hub in Bedford Heights in July 2020, Klein said food producers jumped at the chance to connect with consumers directly.

“A strong local supply chain provides an important solution to the continuing global supply chain problems exposed by the pandemic and perhaps ramping up again with the omicron variant,” Klein said.

Other area food producers helped by Market Wagon’s success include:

∫ Rowdy Cow Creamery (Geauga County) — Lad and Brenda Hastings are third-generation dairy farmers who bottle milk and make cheese in a facility just a few steps from where the cows are milked. In addition to milk and chocolate milk, the Hastings sell a variety of cheese flavors including buffalo ranch, chipotle and dill.

∫ Marie’s Patisserie of Tallmadge — Chef Marie Kostos uses the finest ingredients to create tasty meals as well as decadent pastries. The choices include calzones, chicken parmigiana and mac and cheese. For dessert, there’s cheesecake and cannoli.

Farmer and tech entrepreneur Nick Carter teamed up with logistics expert Dan Brunner to start Market Wagon in 2016. Nationwide, Market Wagon is now available in more than 35 markets across Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

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