BUCKHANNON – Create Buckhannon recently scored a grant to develop a new website for the Buckhannon-Upshur Farmer’s Market.
Create Buckhannon member Katie Loudin laid out tentative plans for the new e-commerce website during the Sept. 2 Create Buckhannon meeting.
“We won the Vanguard Agriculture Innovation Challenge and it’s $5,000 to build out an e-commerce website for our farmer’s market so people can pre-order on this website,” Loudin said. “Susan [Aloi] and I will both be happy not to have to wrestle with the Facebook shop anymore.”
Create Buckhannon launched a Facebook shop this year to help the farmer’s market sell items online, enabling local customers to pick up their produce purchases at Jawbone Park. Loudin, the director of strategic development at the West Virginia Community Development Hub, said she had written the grant on behalf of Create Buckhannon, and when the funds are received, they will pass through the Community Development Hub to Problem Solver’s Consultants, a local digital marketing and advertising firm owned by Mike Ruffing.
“We had a meeting last week or two weeks ago with [president of the Buckhannon-Upshur Farmer’s Market] Donnie Tenney and Mike Ruffing [owner and CEO of] Problem Solver’s Consultants to talk about the needs of the website,” Loudin said. “My team is working on building the e-commerce website for the farmer’s market and we are a pass-through to hold the funds, because we’re the 501C3, and I wrote it on behalf of Create Buckhannon, so the funds will pass through to Problem Solver’s Consultants to do the website development work.”
They hope to get the new website up and running by the end of October and have it fully functional by the next growing season.
“The farmer’s market will still be at Jawbone through October, but we’re going to officially launch it at the start of growing season next year,” Loudin said. “We learned a lot of lessons last year about what worked and what didn’t, so hopefully we can work out some of the kinks with the new site in October and then open it more fully in the spring.”
The site may be able to start operating on a trial run this fall. If the trial run extends beyond October, Loudin suggested the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Upshur County Visitor’s Center on Main Street could function as a pickup location after the farmer’s market for the season.
“Donnie (Tenney) and maybe another farmer might want to pilot some late-autumn or winter sales using the e-commerce website and they’re looking for a drop-off place for people to pick up since they won’t be hanging out at Jawbone for the market,” she said. “Maybe the Visitor’s Center might work, but we’ll talk more about that later.”
Executive Director of the Upshur CVB Laura Meadows said the CVB/Visitors Center would not mind serving as the pick-up location if fall/winter sales occur. More information about the Buckhannon-Upshur Farmer’s Market is available on their Facebook page here, by calling the Extension Office at 304-473-4208 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.