One of the best things to come out of COVID-19 has been our desire to support local businesses and producers. A farmer at Ocean View is trying to make it easier for us to do just that.
Jacki Hinchey grows gourmet salad greens at Blue Dog Farm, and like many other producers, saw much of her customer base disappear when cafes and restaurants closed in March.
Before the virus hit, Jacki’s income was an even split between cafes/restaurants and retail.
All the cafes and restaurants cancelled their orders when they were forced to close, many apologising when they called her to break the news.
“Some kept buying for a week or two because they felt so bad,” Jacki says.
So, she used all the product she had grown to make salad mixes which sold well to retail customers worried about a total lockdown. She also connected with Brisbane - Bulk Buys & Discounts Facebook group which has since helped generate 75 per cent of her income.
With one eye on the local market and another on what’s happening overseas, Jacki’s now leading the charge for a Reko Ring in Dayboro.
It means responsible consumption in Swedish and is essentially an online market for producers to sell direct to customers, without the middleman. The first one was in Finland in 2013.
Jacki says she first heard about it in January and was planning to give it try in September, but has fast tracked the launch date to May 30.
She’s created a closed Facebook group where producers can advertise what they are selling and buyers can comment on the posts to place an order and pay the producer direct, via direct deposit.
Then, on Saturdays in a one-hour window from 11am-noon, vendors and customers congregate in the Railway Street carpark at Dayboro to exchange goods.
Jacki says it will be a non-contact pick-up point to begin with, following a drive-thru model, where goods are passed through the open car window.
“This is now a COVID-19 recovery tool,” Jacki says. “It’s ideal for producers of all sizes because they don’t have to invest in marketing, stalls, site fees or point-of-sale equipment, they just have to know how to use Facebook and ensure their packaging is up to scratch.”
Jacki says she’s heard from people who have used the ‘corona quiet time’ to develop their side hustle and they are looking at Reko as an entry into the marketplace.
“The model has developed with an ethical base to it, and in the spirit of ‘responsible consumption’ we are only working with vendors who are producers – be that fresh produce, cheeses, skin care – we even have a gin distillery in our ring,” Jacki says
“It could change their lives. I’m very enthusiastic about what might come out of it.”
To find out more, head to the Facebook page and send a request to join the group.