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New online 'Food Hub' allows shoppers to buy from local farmers

Produce from local farmers are now availabe for purchase online

ROANOKE, Va. – In a time when consumers are not only shopping online for almost everything they want, but are also becoming more concerned with eating healthy; a local option emerges.

A traditional way of grocery shopping meets modern technology. Buying locally grown produce just became easier if you live in southwest Virginia. A new online food hub Blue Ridge Mountain Bounty is taking the traditional farmers market online.

Joyce Connor, co-owner of Four Oaks Farms LLC in Wirtz was busy Wednesday packaging Green Lolla lettuce freshly picked from their 100-percent hydroponic soil-free growing system.

"Can't get any fresher than this," Joyce Conner said.

Jerry and Joyce Conner, co-owners of Four Oaks Farms LLC are one of the farmers that's now part of an online food hub called Blue Ridge Mountain Bounty.

Their goal is to increase access to locally grown food and ensure that local farmers are paid fair prices. To achieve that the group has married the traditional way of buying directly from local farmers to the modern day convenience of shopping from home through the internet.

"I think customers are looking for convenience as well as something fresh and local,” Jerry Conner said.

He says the online food hub will help expand his business without a costly overhead.

The Conners go to different farmers markets close to their farm like the one in downtown Roanoke every weekend. Farmers markets give them a customer base of people from about an hour away their farm. Now with online shopping, they are able to sell to customer who live two hours or more away."

“It's taken some of the best of the old ways of doing things and the new convenient method that so many people are looking for with their busy lifestyles,” Jerry Conner said.

Once customers order from the Food Hub at brmbva.com, their orders are delivered to various locations in Roanoke, Wytheville and Abington.

"We receive the order and I pick it the day before...it's about as fresh as you can go,” Joyce Conner said.

Currently if customers live within a 5-mile radius of their drop-off location, home deliveries are available and sometimes to their front doors.
    
Organizers hope to expand home delivery in the future, if the trend catches on.


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